Court papers reveal how a jailed banker's wife spent $20 million at Harrods

File pho­to­graph of Zamira Hajiyeva in 2017.

The details of an Azerbaijani wom­an’s £16 mil­lion ($20 mil­lion) spend­ing spree in lux­u­ry London depart­ment store Harrods have been revealed, as part of the UK’s first inves­ti­ga­tion into unex­plained wealth.

Zamira Hajiyeva blew through £600,000 ($760,000) in a sin­gle day and spent mil­lions on design­er fash­ion brands, jew­el­ry and per­fume. She also spent £30,000 ($38,000) on choco­late in a sin­gle pur­chase, and racked up bills of £1 mil­lion ($1.3 mil­lion) in the store’s toy department.Hajiyeva, the wife of a jailed Azerbaijani banker, is the first per­son to be tar­get­ed with Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) in the UK, fol­low­ing the intro­duc­tion of so-called “McMafia” anti-cor­rup­tion laws last year.

She has been ordered to explain the source of the spent funds, as well as how she and her hus­band could afford their pri­cy prop­er­ties. One of the homes owned by the pair — an £11.5 mil­lion ($15.1 mil­lion) house in Knightsbridge — is just a short walk from Harrods.Court doc­u­ments detail­ing her decade­long spend­ing spree, report­ed by British media out­lets includ­ing the Press Association on Tuesday, include £4 mil­lion ($5 mil­lion) spent at lux­u­ry jew­el­ers Boucheron.Hajiyeva also tore through £1.75 mil­lion ($2.2 mil­lion) at Cartier, a lux­u­ry jew­el­ery and watch mak­er. A £1.1 mil­lion ($1.4 mil­lion) Cartier dia­mond ring was lat­er seized by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) as part of the probe.

The famous Harrods store in Knightsbridge, London.

The famous Harrods store in Knightsbridge, London.She dropped £250,000 ($317,000) in Harrods’ per­fumery, and more than £100,000 ($127,000) each at lux­u­ry brands Dennis Basso, Celine, Fendi and Christian Dior, the records show — with each spree occur­ring in sin­gle payments.£30,000 ($38,000) was spent in one day at Belgian choco­late mak­er Godiva, and £2,400 ($3,040) more was spent on wine and spir­its in anoth­er purchase.The doc­u­ments do not detail the indi­vid­ual purchases. 

However, the NCA has pre­vi­ous­ly released some details of the items seized dur­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion; aside from the Cartier dia­mond ring, they include 49 items of jew­el­ery with a val­ue of more than £400,000 ($507,000), which were picked up from an auc­tion house in London where they were being val­ued for Hajiyeva’s daughter.

The moth­er-of-three also had a safe­ty deposit box at Harrods, which she vis­it­ed mul­ti­ple times.Hajiyeva is want­ed by Azerbaijan in rela­tion to fraud offens­es and faces extra­di­tion over the case. 

The UWO orders are a new pow­er avail­able to author­i­ties, and require peo­ple “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.Her hus­band Jahangir Hajiyev, 57, was chair­man of the state-con­trolled International Bank of Azerbaijan from 2001 until his res­ig­na­tion in 2015. 

He was lat­er sen­tenced to 15 years after his con­vic­tion on fraud and embez­zle­ment charges in Baku, Azerbaijan.As well as the Harrods spend­ing spree and the Knightsbridge prop­er­ty, author­i­ties want to know how the pair could afford to buy a £10.5 mil­lion ($13.3 mil­lion) golf club in Ascot, Berkshire. 

Author: Rob Picheta, CNN
Original arti­cle: CNN