United Kingdom deploys Unexplained Wealth Order law

13 October, 2018, 03:34 | Author: Suzanne Horton
  • Zamira Hajiyeva formerly known as Mrs A says she was given £1 million by her husband Jahangir Hajiyev

If she is unable to prove the legitimate source of the funds, Zamira risks having the properties seized.

The case marks Britain's first use of Unexplained Wealth Orders, introduced this year to curb London's status as a haven for ill-gotten gains.

Until now the woman had been referred to only as "Mrs A" and strict reporting restrictions prevented her name, her country of origin and her husband's name from being reported.

The judge extended the anonymity order until noon on Wednesday pending an appeal against his ruling.

Unexplained Wealth Orders are created to target individuals who are unable to account for £50,000 (U.S. $66,000) or more of their wealth and are a civil - not criminal -action.

Hajiyeva's husband is Jahangir Hajiyev, the former head of the state bank of Azerbaijan who was sentenced to 15 years in jail after being convicted on fraud and embezzlement charges in 2016, the Associated Press reported.

He was slapped with a 15-year prison term and ordered to repay more than $52million.

United Kingdom law enforcement used a new tactic to target two of the couple's properties owned through a web of offshore companies - a grand double-fronted home in the heart of upmarket Knightsbridge, bought for £11.5 million in 2009, and a golf club in the wealthy suburban town of Ascot, Berkshire.

The anti-corruption charity Transparency International sent ABC News documents that they say identify £4.4 billion worth of property bought with suspicious money in the U.K. The charity said that there are a total of 86,000 properties owned by companies in secrecy jurisdictions, meaning it is impossible to trace who owns them.

Increased tensions with Russian Federation, following the attempted murder of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, has also placed pressure on the United Kingdom to act against wealthy exiles suspected who have made London their home using the proceeds of plundered industries.

"Nobody knows precisely how much dirty money is trying to be laundered through Britain because London is one of the biggest financial centers in the world", Penrose told ABC News.

Mrs Hajiyeva's lavish lifestyle was revealed during the legal proceedings, which came to an end last week.

The court also heard that Zamira flew on a private jet. She also had bills of £20,000 on luxury men's goods, £100,000 on jewellery.

The NCA alleges that this money - and the money used to acquire the properties - was cash that her husband embezzled when he was employed by the bank.

"We are delighted that this first case is progressing in court, underlining the effectiveness of unexplained wealth orders in targeting suspicious wealth", said the organization's director, Duncan Hames.

"UWOs should now be used more widely to pursue more of the £4.4 billion worth of suspicious wealth we have identified across the United Kingdom".

Does Mrs Hajiyeva admit doing anything wrong?

Her attempt to overturn the UWO at the High Court was unsuccessful last week.

Lawyers for Mrs. Hajiyeva said in a statement provided to PA: "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 wrong-doing, whether on her part or that of her husband".


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