29 May 2019
Zamira Hajiyeva, the wife of a convicted Azerbaijani banker, spent $20 million at upmarket London department store Harrods, by using 35 credit cards issued by the bank led by her husband, over a decade. She is married to former International Bank of Azerbaijan chairman Jahangir Hajiyev. He was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 2016 for fraud and embezzlement. The fraud is as much as £2.2 billion. The phot above shows Jahangir Hajiyev and his wife Zamira.
Britain’s National Crime Agency is investigating Ms Hajiyeva as to how she got the money to fund her spending and buy two UK properties a £11.5 million Knightsbridge house a few minutes’ walk from Harrods and a £10.5 million golf club in Ascot, Berkshire. Ownership of the property was traced to a company based in the British Virgin Islands. The company was jointly owned by Hajiyev and his wife.
Her other known purchases include a private jet at £42 million in today’s money. The two properties and private jet stand to be seized if Hajiyeva cannot provide an account of how she lawfully acquired the money to purchase them.
Harrods records disclosed at the High Court detail spending that includes 5.75 million pounds at jewellers Boucheron and Cartier, 1 million pounds in Harrods’ toy department and 30,000 pounds at chocolatier Godiva. The judge allowed the police to seize a diamond ring valued at $1.5 million from a London jeweller who was repairing it. Her family’s jewellery worth more than £400,000 was seized from Christie’s auction house by the National Crime Agency.
Using Unexplained Wealth Order(UWO), nicknamed the ‘McMafia laws’ which came into force last year. This law allows UK authorities to seize assets from people suspected of corruption or links to organised crime until the owners account for how they were acquired. This is the first time the legislation will be tested in a court. abc.net.au reported.
Jahangir Hajiyev was awarded the prestigious Queen Victoria Commemorative Medal and named Best Banker by Europe’s business leaders, for his role in leading Azerbaijan through the 2008 financial calamity. Hajiyev‘s personal wealth was valued at £55 million in 2011.
Azerbaijan is known for its authoritarian rule. Power is concentrated in the hands of the First Family: President Aliyev and his wife, Mehriban Aliyeva. Some people believe that the First Family for years swindled the country’s coffers for hundreds of millions of dollars for personal gain.
They believe that the First Family is using Jahangir Hajiyev as a scapegoat. By arresting, charging and keeping him in jail (even while the others from his bank who were arrested have been set free), the Aliyev family is moving the spotlight off of themselves and onto Hajiyev. A senior research officer at Transparency International said that the ruling family in Azerbaijan own millions of pounds worth of property in London through their secretive, phony companies. ann.az reported.
The NCA said in a statement that it had considered some 140 cases in Britain in which a UWO could be warranted and said it will issue several UWOs in the coming months.