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Jailed Azerbaijani Banker's Wife Loses Battle Over U.K.'s First Unexplained Wealth Order

Zamira Haciyeva (file photo)
Zamira Haciyeva (file photo)

A jailed Azerbaijani banker's wife who spent 16 million pounds ($21 million) over a decade in London's Harrods department store and was the target of Britain's first unexplained wealth order (UWO) has lost her appeal against a court order to reveal the source of her money.

Zamira 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.

UWOs were first brought into force in January 2018 under a range of so-called "McMafia laws", and Haciyeva was the first person to be made subject to one of these orders.

The Court of Appeal in London on February 5 dismissed 56-year-old Haciyeva's move to overturn the UWO against a property in London's Knightsbridge district that was purchased for 11.6 million pounds (almost $15 million) in 2009 and the Mill Ride Golf Course in Berkshire that was bought for 10.5 million pounds (more than $13.5 million) in 2013.

Haciyeva had tried to persuade the court that her husband's conviction in Azerbaijan had contributed to the decision to make her a target of the UWO. But the court rejected that argument.

According to the law, now Haciyeva must explain to the National Crime Agency (NCA) within seven days how she could afford the properties and her extravagant spending.

Failure to explain the origins of her money will give the right to the NCA to seize her assets, the law says.

Based on reporting by Financial Times, BBC, and Sky News

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