Woman who spent €18 million at Harrods fights UK wealth order

  • Woman who spent €18 million at Harrods fights UK wealth order

Woman who spent €18 million at Harrods fights UK wealth order

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.

Unexplained Wealth Orders are created to target individuals who are unable to account for £50,000 (U.S. $66,000) or more of their wealth and are a civil - not criminal -action. Targeted individuals must be able to trace their income to a legitimate source or face severe financial penalties.

According to the United Kingdom judicial ruling last week, the Hajiyevs bought the house in the upscale Knightsbridge neighborhood of London in 2009 through a British Virgin Islands company, paying around £4 million of the £11.5 million purchase price upfront.

The High Court order dismissing her attempt to throw out the NCA case and maintain her anonymity was made last week, when Hajiyeva was named only as "Mrs A", but her lawyers were given a week to appeal. 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.

Hajiyeva's lawyers said in a statement that the issuing of a wealth order "does not and should not be taken to imply any wrong-doing, whether on her part or that of her husband".

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

At an earlier court hearing, a lawyer for Britain's National Crime Agency gave details of her spending at Harrods, a large chunk of it using 35 credit cards issued by her husband's bank.

While she had previously been called "Mrs".

The case marks Britain's first use of Unexplained Wealth Orders, introduced this year to curb London's status as a haven for ill-gotten gains.

Mr Justice Supperstone overturned an anonymity order preventing the identification of her and her husband, disgraced former chairman of the state-controlled International Bank of Azerbaijan, Jahangir Hajiyev.

Mr. Hajiyev was IBA's chairman between 2001 and 2015. The NCA alleges that this money - and the money used to acquire the properties - was cash that her husband embezzled when he was employed by the bank.

How much money did the couple bring to the UK?

"Where we can not determine a legitimate source for the funds used to purchase assets and prime property, it is absolutely right that we ask probing questions to uncover their origin", said Donald Toon, the NCA director for economic crime.

"They enable the U.K.to more effectively target the problem of money laundering through prime real estate in London and across the U.K.", Toon added, "and we will now seek to move further cases to the High Court".

A second multi-million pound property is also being investigated.

As well as spending more than £16 million in the Harrods department store over a ten year period, Mrs Hajiyeva owns a five bedroom house worth £15 million and also bought the Mill Ride golf and country club in Ascot for £10.5 million.

"I'm a huge supporter of publishing a list of anybody who has been found guilty of corrupt offenses", Penrose said.