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Wife Of Jailed Azerbaijani Banker Loses Final Appeal Against Britain's 'Unexplained Wealth Order'

Zamira Haciyeva
Zamira Haciyeva

The wife of the jailed former boss of Azerbaijan's biggest bank, who spent more than $21 million over a decade in London's Harrods department store, has lost her final appeal against a court order to reveal the source of her money.

The U.K. Supreme Court said on December 21 that it had dismissed Zamira Haciyeva’s appeal against an unexplained wealth order (UWO) made against her by Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA).

Haciyeva may now lose her home on an exclusive street in London's central Knightsbridge district and a separate golf course in Berkshire if she can't explain the source of her fortune.

The properties were worth a total of more than $29 million when the legal battle began in February 2018.

Haciyeva's husband, Cahangir Haciyev, is an ex-chairman of the state-controlled International Bank of Azerbaijan who is serving a lengthy prison term in his homeland on fraud and embezzlement charges.

The Supreme Court said Haciyeva's challenge to the UWO raised no arguable point of law.

Her lawyers had petitioned the court to consider her case, saying she had not been lawfully targeted by the NCA.

"This is a significant result which is important in establishing Unexplained Wealth Orders as a powerful tool for financial investigations,” said Graeme Biggar, director-general of the NCA’s National Economic Crime Center.

"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," he added.

Haciyeva was the first person to be made subject to a UWO, which were brought into force in 2018 under a range of so-called "McMafia laws.”

Hajiyeva, who denies any wrongdoing, had already failed to convince the court of appeal and the high court to overturn the order.

At a 2018 court hearing, it was revealed that Haciyeva used as many as 35 credit cards issued by her husband's bank to spend more than $21 million in Harrods alone between 2006 and 2016.

The court heard that the couple was the ultimate owner of the Knightsbridge home, the golf club outside London, and other properties.

With reporting by the BBC and The Guardian
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