THE woman who spent £16million of alleged stolen cash at Harrods has been unmasked as jobless mum-of-three Zamira Hajiyeva.
She lost a court bid this week to stop her being named as the first person probed under the UK’s new “McMafia” laws.
Husband Jahangir Hajiyev is serving 15 years in jail for stealing more than £100million in his role as chairman of Azerbaijan’s state bank.
He earned £54,000 a year but has an estimated £55million fortune — which the family claim came from shrewd business deals.
Mrs Hajiyeva, 55, fled the ex-Soviet state and remains on its Most Wanted list, while living in a £15million home minutes from Harrods. She denies doing anything illegal.
But her lavish lifestyle is the subject of an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) — a new power that allows the National Crime Agency to force foreigners to reveal the source of their wealth. She is appealing against the order.
The NCA says she used 35 credit cards all linked to her husband’s bank in her ten-year Harrods spree.
She spent £48,600 on a piece of Cartier jewellery and three Boucheron items worth £121,000.
She splurged £20,000 on luxury men’s goods and £1,800 on wine.
Records show she also owns two parking spaces under the store at an estimated cost of £365,000 a year.
The NCA also alleges she used fraudulent funds to buy the couple’s nearby home in Knightsbridge, West London, for £11.5million in 2009.
It was secured with a £4million deposit and the mortgage cleared in five years. The NCA said it had been bought in an “unusual and secretive manner” through shell companies.
Mrs Hajiyeva says the purchase of the property “was my husband’s responsibility”, and she has “no knowledge of any of the payments”.
A neighbour said: “I’ve seen her walking her little dog around, but we don’t really talk to the neighbours. It’s why you buy a house in the area, and part of its charm.”
A second offshore company, of which Mrs Hajiyeva is a benefactor, owns Mill Ride Golf & Country Club in Ascot, worth nearly £11million.
General manager Robin Greenwood told The Sun: “We have dealings with the parent company, but have never dealt with her. We don’t know anything about this.”
A company linked to her husband owns a £32million Gulfsteam jet.
Europe’s business leaders named Mr Hajiyev as Best Banker in a Crisis for his role in leading Azerbaijan through the 2008 crash. He resigned in 2016, and was later convicted of fraud and jailed for 15 years of hard labour. Courts there also ordered him to pay back £28million. He has since been on hunger strike and claims his trial was politically motivated. His wife was arrested in her absence on charges of misappropriation of state funds.
In court documents, the NCA said there was “reliable evidence which suggests that Mr Hajiyev was a state employee in Azerbaijan between 1993 to 2015. It is very unlikely that such a position would have generated sufficient income to fund the acquisition of the (UK) property.”
In immigration papers sent to the Home Office ten years ago, the couple said that they had access to at least £55million and were handed indefinite investment visas.
Court documents also reveal Mrs Hajiyev was handed £1million by her husband for a Tier 1 investment visa, and around £20,000 a month to maintain her lifestyle.
She told the High Court in a witness statement: “My husband was in 2009 a man of substantial means. He was very well-off when we married in 1997 and has accumulated capital and wealth since the early 1990s.” Mrs Hajiyeva is appealing against the UWO. Barrister James Lewis is fighting her case at a cost of £500 an hour.
TV link to law
UNEXPLAINED Wealth Orders came into force in January in a bid to force foreigners to prove their source of wealth and how they bought UK property.
They are dubbed McMafia laws as their launch coincided with the BBC drama McMafia — about gangsters with Russian links such as Alex Godman hiding cash in London.
Authorities are able to freeze and recover property if individuals can’t explain how they acquired assets worth more than £50,000.
The National Crime Agency, HMRC, the Financial Conduct Authority, Serious Fraud Office, and Crown Prosecution Service can all apply for UWOs.
They can also be applied to politicians outside the European Economic Area entrusted with a prominent public position.
Solicitor Thomas Garner, also part of the legal team, said: “The decision of the High Court upholding the grant of a UWO does not and should not be taken to imply any wrongdoing, whether on her part or that of her husband.”
Duncan Hames, of Transparency International UK, said: “We are delighted that this first case is progressing in court, underlining the effectiveness of UWOs. They should now be used more widely to pursue more of the £4.4billion worth of suspicious wealth we have identified across the UK.”
Donald Toon, from the NCA, said it was “determined to ensure the UK is not seen as a soft target for the investment of illicit finance”.
He added: “Where we cannot 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.”
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