Published: Sat, November 10, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Woman who spent £16m in Harrods arrested

Woman who spent £16m in Harrods arrested

She now faces extradition to stand trial for embezzlement.

She is under investigation by Britain's National Crime Agency (NCA), which in February secured the country's first-ever unexplained wealth order to target Hajiyeva's wealth.

She is now in an isolation cell and her extradition to Azerbaijan is under consideration.

The agency already seized $722,000 worth of jewellery in connection to the Hajiyeva case, which included a $216,000 sapphire and ruby necklace. It requires those "reasonably suspected of involvement" or "being connected to a person involved" in a serious crime to explain how their property was obtained, if their lawful income appears to be insufficient to afford it.

Zamira Hajiyeva was arrested in London last week after an extradition request from Baku, where she faces two charges of embezzlement.

But her lawyers said she is no "fraudster" - just a "spendthrift" - and was not likely to flee the country because her children were based in the UK.

The judge was prepared to grant her bail, on the condition of 500,000 pounds for security.

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Ms Hajiyeva's husband was sentenced to 15 years in an Azerbaijan jail in 2016, after he was convicted for embezzlement having defrauded the bank of up to $3.9 billion.

People who fail to account for the sources of their funds are liable to have assets seized.

Ms Hajiyeva also bought an $20.7 million five-bedroom home which, according to UK's The Guardian, was roughly 90 metres from the Harrods doors.

Prosecutors immediately appealed, meaning she will remain in custody, with the appeal hearing expected to take place on Thursday at the High Court.

Duncan Hames, director of policy at Transparency International UK, said in a statement last month, "The UK has been long identified as a safe haven for corrupt money and despite successive governments recognizing this, money launderers have continued to hide their ill-gotten gains here".

"Alarm bells should be ringing when public servants on state salaries start amassing high-end real estate, luxury goods, even a private jet, and a million-pound Tier 1 investment visa", he said.

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