‘McMafia’ banker’s wife will have £22m seized unless she reveals source of wealth

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Supreme court upholds order against Zamira Hajiyeva, who spent £1m a year at Harrods

Zamira Hajiyeva will be forced to give up her £15m home in central London unless she complies. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA

 The Guardian- Rupert Neate Wealth correspondent

A woman who spent £1m a year at Harrods will be forced to give up her £15m home unless she reveals the source of her fortune following the UK’s first McMafia-style “dirty money” investigation.

Zamira Hajiyeva, the wife of a former boss of the Azerbaijani state bank jailed for fraud, has lost her final appeal against a court order forcing her to reveal how she came by so much money.

If she fails to comply, the UK’s National Crime Agency will be able to seize £22m worth of property, including her home in Knightsbridge, central London, and an £11m Berkshire golf course.

The supreme court announced on Monday that it had dismissed Hajiyeva’s appeal against the unexplained wealth order made against her by the National Crime Agency. Hajiyeva had already failed to convince the court of appeal and the high court to overturn the order, secured in 2018.

Graeme Biggar, director general of the national economic crime centre at the NCA, said: “This is a significant result which is important in establishing unexplained wealth orders as a powerful tool for financial investigations. This was the first UWO secured and the NCA has been determined throughout the many legal challenges faced over the last two years. This case will set a helpful precedent for future UWO cases.

“There are no further routes for Mrs Hajiyeva to appeal against the order. She will now be required to provide the NCA with the information we are seeking in connection with these assets.”

Hajiyeva hit the headlines last year when the Guardian and other media won a legal case forcing the publication of her spending habit. It was revealed that she spent more than £16m in Harrods alone between 2006 and 2016. She appeared to treat the department store as her corner shop, spending £24,000 on tea and coffee, £10,000 on fruit and vegetables and £32,000 on Godiva chocolates.

She also spent £4.9m on Boucheron and Cartier jewellery and £300,000 on the French couture label Celine. A further £251,000 was spent in the toy department and tens of thousands on Disney princess experiences at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.

Hajiyeva denies any wrongdoing and her lawyers have said the case against her husband was politically motivated.

 

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