Azeri bankers high-spending wife targeted by new British anti-graft powers

Anonymity order over mystery 'unexplained wealth' target lifted

Woman who spent £16 million in Harrods named as first person investigated under new 'suspicious wealth' orders

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.

File photo of Jahangir Hajiyev, chairman of the International Bank of Azerbaijan at the time, speaking during a session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Dalian, Liaoning Province, China, Sept. 15, 2011.

Her identity can now be published after an anonymity order was lifted by a judge, who ruled "no good case" had been made for its extension.

What did Ms Hajiyeva spend her money on?

The NCA had alleged Hajiyeva bought two properties using money embezzled by her husband when he worked for the IBA.

Zamira Hajiyeva, wife of a jailed Azerbaijani banker, has been named after losing a High Court battle to remain anonymous.

Her husband, a former chairman of the Bank of Azerbaijan, has been convicted of fraud and embezzlement. He was also ordered to pay the bank $39 million.

There was the £16 million ($28 million) spent at the luxury London department store Harrods.

Mrs Hajiyeva used three store loyalty cards and 35 credit cards issued by her husband's bank.

Examples of her big spending, revealed to the court, included £150,000 spent on a single day on Boucheron - a luxury jewellery, perfume and watches brand.

Hajiyeva's lawyers appealed against the ruling and asked for the anonymity order to be kept in place.

Her lawyers in a statement said Mrs. Hajiyeva applied to appeal last week's ruling, and that the upholding of the order doesn't imply any wrongdoing by the Hajiyevs.

They noted it is part of an investigative process, not a criminal procedure.

Official records reveal the couple also own two dedicated bays within the private Harrods auto park and Mrs Hajiyeva also bought a $42m Gulfstream G550 jet.

Duncan Hames, director of policy at Transparency International UK, said: 'We are delighted that this first case is progressing in court, underlining the effectiveness of Unexplained Wealth Orders in targeting suspicious wealth.

UWOs, used by the National Crime Agency, were introduced in January in an attempt to crack down on so-called McMafia crime.

"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", he said. The National Crime Agency said Hajiyeva's spending amounted to $2.1 million a year between 2006 and 2016.

The Azeri finance ministry said about $3 billion could have been misappropriated by Hajiyev, who denied the charges.

"Unexplained wealth orders have the potential to significantly reduce the appeal of the United Kingdom as a destination for illicit income".

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