LONDON – The United Kingdom’s High Court gave the green light on Wednesday to share the identity of a woman under investigation in the first Unexplained Wealth Order for spending 16 million pounds ($21 million) over the course of a decade in a luxury department store.
Zamira Hajiyeva, the spouse of a former chairman of the International Bank of Azerbaijan, Jahangir Hajiyev – a convicted fraudster imprisoned for embezzlement of public funds – allegedly spent the millionaire sum at Harrods over 10 years.
Hajiyeva, 55 years old, is the first person to be investigated under the UWOs provision, the High Court said.
“The provision specifically targets red flag situations where a person buying expensive items, like property or jewels, doesn’t appear to be wealthy enough to make the purchase,” the non-profit Transparency International said in a statement on its website.
On average, the banker’s wife spent 4,000 pounds a day, including a whopping 150,000-pound shopping spree in which she splurged on jewelry, perfume and watches in just one day.
Hajiyeva used 35 credit cards issued by her husband’s bank between 2001-2015.
Jahangir Hajiyev stepped down as the bank’s chairman in 2015 when he was charged for fraud and embezzlement and sentenced to 15 years prison.
In 2009, the couple purchased a luxury home worth 11.5 million pounds via a company registered in the British Virgin Islands.
They went on to purchase a golf course four years later in Berkshire, a county in southeast England.
The UK parliament passed on April 27 the Unexplained Wealth Orders law – a provision of the Criminal Finances Bill – to fight corruption and reduce the appeal of the UK as a destination for illegal income, according to Donald Toon, the National Crime Agency’s director.
The UWOs force individuals with declared incomes that seem low to justify questionable assets worth 50,000 pounds or more.