Wife of jailed Azeri banker is target of UK’s first Unexplained Wealth Order

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LONDON 

The wife of a jailed Azeri banker, who spent more than 16 million pounds ($21 million) at luxury department store Harrods, was identified on Wednesday as the first target of new British powers to combat corruption after London’s High Court lifted an anonymity order.

Last week, Zamira Hajiyeva, the wife of the former chairman of Azerbaijan’s largest bank, lost an appeal at the High Court against an attempt by the British authorities to seize two properties worth about 22 million pounds using a new Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO).

Hajiyeva’s husband Jahangir Hajiyev, who was chairman of the International Bank of Azerbaijan, the country’s only state-owned bank, from 2001 to 2015, was convicted of fraud and embezzlement in October 2016 and sentenced to 15 years in jail.

“Where we cannot determine a legitimate source for the funds used to purchase assets and prime property, it is absolutely right that we ask probing questions to uncover their origin,” said Donald Toon, Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) director for economic crime.

“Unexplained Wealth Orders have the potential to significantly reduce the appeal of the UK as a destination for illicit income.”

(Reuters) –