International desk, May 29: The details of an Azerbaijani woman’s £16 million ($20 million) spending spree in luxury London department store Harrods have been revealed, as part of the UK’s first investigation into unexplained wealth.Zamira Hajiyeva blew through £600,000 ($760,000) in a single day and spent millions on designer fashion brands, jewelry and perfume. She also spent £30,000 ($38,000) on chocolate in a single purchase, and racked up bills of £1 million ($1.3 million) in the store’s toy department, CNN reports.
Hajiyeva, the wife of a jailed Azerbaijani banker, is the first person to be targeted with Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) in the UK, following the introduction of so-called “McMafia” anti-corruption laws last year.
She has been ordered to explain the source of the spent funds, as well as how she and her husband could afford their pricy properties. One of the homes owned by the pair — an £11.5 million ($15.1 million) house in Knightsbridge — is just a short walk from Harrods.
Court documents detailing her decadelong spending spree, reported by British media outlets including the Press Association on Tuesday, include £4 million ($5 million) spent at luxury jewelers Boucheron.
Hajiyeva also tore through £1.75 million ($2.2 million) at Cartier, a luxury jewelery and watch maker. A £1.1 million ($1.4 million) Cartier diamond ring was later seized by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) as part of the probe.
She dropped £250,000 ($317,000) in Harrods’ perfumery, and more than £100,000 ($127,000) each at luxury brands Dennis Basso, Celine, Fendi and Christian Dior, the records show — with each spree occurring in single payments.
£30,000 ($38,000) was spent in one day at Belgian chocolate maker Godiva, and £2,400 ($3,040) more was spent on wine and spirits in another purchase.
The documents do not detail the individual purchases. However, the NCA has previously released some details of the items seized during the investigation; aside from the Cartier diamond ring, they include 49 items of jewelery with a value of more than £400,000 ($507,000), which were picked up from an auction house in London where they were being valued for Hajiyeva’s daughter.
Hajiyeva is wanted by Azerbaijan in relation to fraud offenses and faces extradition over the case. The UWO orders are a new power available to authorities, and require people “reasonably suspected of involvement” or “being connected to a person involved” in a serious crime to explain how their property was obtained, if their lawful income appears to be insufficient to afford it.
Her husband Jahangir Hajiyev, 57, was chairman of the state-controlled International Bank of Azerbaijan from 2001 until his resignation in 2015. He was later sentenced to 15 years after his conviction on fraud and embezzlement charges in Baku, Azerbaijan.
As well as the Harrods spending spree and the Knightsbridge property, authorities want to know how the pair could afford to buy a £10.5 million ($13.3 million) golf club in Ascot, Berkshire.