UK: Woman who spent $21m at luxury Harrods store fights wealth order

Annette Crawford
October 11, 2018

The orders, encompassing a London mansion and golf club near Ascot racecourse, mark a warning shot by U.K. authorities toward Russian oligarchs, families of former African dictators and other so-called politically exposed persons parking their money in the U.K. They are part of new legislation aimed at combating dirty money in the country, and specifically target people with political connections or suspected of serious crime whose means for buying property or other assets isn't clear.

A second, first-of-its-kind Unexplained Wealth Order was also filed in relation to her ownership of a $13.5 million golf course, purchased through a different company. An earlier court hearing heard how she splashed out 150,000 pounds on jewelry in a day. He said the Unexplained Wealth Orders are the start of a crackdown on money laundering in the United Kingdom.

A woman whose husband is a jailed state banker in Azerbaijan has lost a court fight to avoid being named as she seeks to explain how she paid for two properties worth £22 million ($29 million) in total, Britain's Press Association reported Wednesday.

Hajiyeva, originally from Azerbaijan, is the wife of Jahangir Hajiyev, the former chairman of the International Bank of Azerbaijan.

Mrs. Hajiyeva told the United Kingdom court her husband was a man "of substantial means" at the time of the purchase of the house but records in the court case showed his bank salary was around $70,000.

One property, worth around £11.5 million, is in the rich London neighborhood of Knightsbridge, where Harrods is located.

He was subsequently jailed for 15 years over fraud and embezzlement charges. Judges also ordered him to repay $39m.

Hajiyeva spent 16.3 million pounds ($21.3 million) under a loyalty card scheme at Harrods between 2006 and 2016, using 35 credit cards issued to her by the IBA.

Official records reveal the couple also own two dedicated bays within the private Harrods vehicle park and Mrs Hajiyeva also bought a $42m Gulfstream G550 jet. The U.K. National Crime Agency, which brought the action against Mrs. Hajiyeva, estimates hundreds of billions of pounds of worldwide crime proceeds are laundered through the country and its banks each year.

'UWOs should now be used more widely to pursue more of the £4.4 billion worth of suspicious wealth we have identified across the United Kingdom'.

'The NCA's case is that the UWO is part of an investigative process, not a criminal procedure, and it does not involve the finding of any criminal offence.

During her unsuccessful challenge to the Unexplained Wealth Order, Mrs Hajiyeva said her husband was a legitimate businessman who had become independently wealthy thanks to a string of successful businesses, before becoming a chairman at the bank. The director of the UK's National Crime Agency says Unexplained Wealth Orders should be used more broadly to target some $6 billion in suspicious wealth.

The new Unexplained Wealth Orders are an attempt to force the owners to disclose their wealth.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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