Azerbaijani woman who spent £16m in Harrods granted bail by High Court

 
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Hajiyeva's husband is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence in Azerbaijan (Source: Getty)

A woman who spent £16m at Harrods and is fighting extradition to Azerbaijan has been released on bail following her arrest last week on embezzlement charges.


Zamira Hajiyeva, the wife of an Azerbaijan banker who is serving a 15-year prison sentence in their home country, is the subject of the UK's first Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO), a new power by which property owners are forced to disclose their wealth to the authorities.

In Hajiyeva's case, she has been asked to explain how she was able to afford two UK properties worth a combined £22m.

The Metropolitan police arrested Hajiyeva after receiving a request from authorities in Azerbaijan, who suspect she is involved in an alleged conspiracy to defraud the country's national bank.

The BBC reported that High Court judge Mr Justice Baker today granted bail because there were "no substantial grounds" to deny it.


As part of her bail conditions Hajiyeva will have to pay a £500,000 bond and have an electronic tagging device installed in her Knightsbridge home.

She has also been ordered to stay at home between the the hours of 9pm and 6am and report daily to Charing Cross police station. She will not be able to visit any international transfer hub, apply for travel documents or go outside the boundary of the M25. ​

Lawyers for Hajiyeva have said she is not fraudster and is unlikely to flee the UK.

What are unexplained wealth orders?

UWOs came into effect in January this year and Hajiyeva's case marks the first time one has been used in the UK. The new tool in the arsenal of the National Crime Agency (NCA) overturns the principle in English law that the burden of proof lies with the prosecutor. Under the UWO, the accused now has to prove their assets were obtained within the confines of the law and are not the proceeds of criminal activity.

If the subject of a UWO fails to respond, the property under question maybe presumed to have been acquired unlawfully, paving the way for it to be seized as part of a subsequent civil action.

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