Wednesday, 17 Jul 2024

Woman who spent £16m at Harrods faces extradition hearing

LONDON (AFP) – The woman targeted by Britain’s first Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO), who spent £16 million (S$28 million) in department store Harrods, will appear in court on Thursday as she fights an extradition request by Azerbaijan, prosectors said on Wednesday (Nov 7).

Zamira Hajiyeva was arrested in London last week after an extradition request from Baku, where she faces two charges of embezzlement.

She is currently in custody after having her bail request turned down. She will appeal the decision to refuse her bail at London’s High Court on Thursday, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

Hajiyev’s husband Jahangir was jailed in 2016 for embezzling money from the International Bank of Azerbaijan, where he was chairman.

Separately, she is being scrutinised by Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA), who issued a UWO to demand that she explain where she got the £11.5 million to pay for her property in Knightsbridge, central London.

The court issuing the order heard that she had spent more than £16 million at luxury department store Harrods over a 10-year period.

The UWO court orders were incorporated into British law in January 2018 as part of the fight against money laundering.

People who fail to account for the sources of their assets are liable to have assets seized.

A judge at Westminster magistrates court initially ruled on Tuesday that Hajiyeva could be released on bail by paying a £500,000 bond.

But prosecutors challenged the decision and she was detained in custody, being deemed a flight risk.

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