London detains wife of jailed Azerbaijani banker

An address belonging to Zamira Hajiyeva who is the subject of the first two unexplained wealth orders obtained by the UK National Crime Agency

Police arrest woman who spent £16m in Harrods

Zamira Hajiyeva is the subject of the first two unexplained wealth orders (UWO) obtained by the UK National Crime Agency (NCA), and has been ordered to explain how she paid for two properties worth £22 million ($29 million) in total, Britain's Press Association reported in October.

It has been revealed that Hajiyeva, who lives in a $20 million house in London, used as many as 35 credit cards issued by her husband's bank to spend more than $21 million at the luxury store Harrods over a decade.

Hajiyeva, 55, is the first person to be subject to an Unexplained Wealth Order, a measure introduced by the United Kingdom at the beginning of the year in a bid to curb London's status as a haven for ill-gotten gains.

Hajiyeva's husband, Jahangir Hajiyev, who was formerly chair of the International Bank of Azerbaijan, is now serving a 15-year prison sentence in Azerbaijan for his part in embezzling $138 million.

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She is now in custody after having her bail request turned down.

However, prosecutors appealed the decision, meaning she will remain in custody pending an appeal on November 8. The orders allow authorities to seize assets from people suspected of corruption until the owners account for how they were acquired.

Her legal team argued that she was a "spendthrift" - not "a fraudster".

UWOs are an investigative power only available to the National Crime Agency, Revenue and Customs, the Financial Conduct Authority, Serious Fraud Office, or the Crown Prosecution Service.

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Mrs Hajiyeva's release on bail is subject to a £500,000 bond and arrangements for an electronic tagging device to be installed at her Knightsbridge home. However, the crown prosecution, acting on behalf of the Azeri government, appealed, pushing the bail decision to the High Court, which will make a decision November 8.

Her husband was convicted in 2016 of defrauding a state-controlled Azerbaijan bank, which he once ran, out of millions of pounds.

Lawyers for Hajiyeva said: 'The decision of the High Court upholding the grant of an Unexplained Wealth Order against Zamira Hajiyeva does not and should not be taken to imply any wrongdoing, whether on her part or that of her husband'. The Azerbaijani woman must explain how she afforded the assets in question, otherwise she could lose them.

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