Wife of disgraced Azeri banker detained in London

Share

According to the Financial Times, the Azeri government is now asking the United Kingdom to extradite Hajiyeva to stand trial on embezzlement charges, a London court was told on November 6.

She was granted bail last Tuesday but prosecutors lodged an appeal, arguing that she posed a flight risk.

Hajiyev's husband Jahangir was jailed in 2016 for embezzling money from the International Bank of Azerbaijan, where he was chairman.

Zamira Hajiyeva is the first person to be subject to an Unexplained Wealth Order, a measure aimed at curbing London's status as a haven for ill-gotten gains.

There, Hajiyeva's lavish lifestyle made her the first target of new legislation created to target suspected corrupt foreign officials who have potentially laundered stolen money through Britain.

Over the course of a decade, the 55-year-old spent up big at the department store, with a court hearing she bought $180,000 worth of Cartier jewellery. The orders allow authorities to seize assets from people suspected of corruption or links to organised crime until the owners account for how they were acquired.

Her lawyer described her arrest as "an appalling shock" to her, according to the Financial Times.

Senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot agreed that Mrs Hajiyeva could be released on bail - if she pays £500,000 as a guarantee, stays at her home in Knightsbridge, does not travel outside the M25 and reports to police every day.

The court of appeal heard she made the purchases on three Harrods customer loyalty cards, using 35 credit cards from the International Bank of Azerbaijan, her husband's bank. Last week, jewellery worth £400,000 was seized from the auction house Christie's in connection with the case.

Mrs Hajiyeva was only known as Mrs A until a judge lifted an anonymity order last month.

Lawyers for Hajiyeva said: 'The decision of the High Court upholding the grant of an Unexplained Wealth Order against Zamira Hajiyeva does not and should not be taken to imply any wrongdoing, whether on her part or that of her husband'.

She has been ordered to explain how she funds her lifestyle, which includes a £16million bill at Harrods over ten years.

Share