An Azerbaijani woman who has spent the equivalent of US $21 million at the Harrods department store in London over the last 10 years will have to reveal the source of her wealth to the British authorities.
A court ordered 55-year-old Zamira Hajiyeva to explain how she was able to afford a $15 million London mansion near Harrods and a golf course outside the city for $14 million.
Ms Hajiyeva is the first target of a new law that aims to seize the funds of those who have enriched themselves through corruption.
Her husband, Jahangir Hajiyeva, is the former president of the International Bank of Azerbaijan. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison in that country in 2016 for fraud and embezzlement.
This is the first time the UK authorities have issued an Unexplained Wealth Order, a type of legal writ adopted this year to combat London’s reputation for being a haven for illicitly earned money. Authorities can now seize more than US $66,000 owned by individuals suspected of corruption or organised crime until owners can clarify the source of their wealth.
In a previous hearing, a British government lawyer revealed that Ms Hajiyeva was had 35 credit cards from her husband’s bank. Between 2006 and 2016, she spent more than US $21 million in the luxurious department store, spending US $130,000 in one day on Cartier jewelry, on another visit she spent US $200,000 Boucheron jewellery and US $2,300 on bottles of wine.
Ms. Hajiyeva denies the accusation that her spending comes from the proceeds of corruption and her lawyers say she is only under investigation and not facing criminal charges.