The wife of a disgraced former boss of Azerbaijan’s biggest bank who was subject to the UK’s first Unexplained Wealth Order when she spent £16million in Harrods will be freed on bail.
Zamira Hajiyeva used 35 credit cards issued by her husband’s bank to splash out £16 million over a decade at Britain’s most extravagant department store, located just a stone’s-throw from her lavish London home.
The 55-year-old will be released on bail pending attempts to extradite her to Azerbaijan, where she faces allegations of embezzlement.
She was the subject of two UWOs obtained under the so-called McMafia laws by the National Crime Agency (NCA) against properties worth a total of £22 million.
The 55-year-old was arrested by the Metropolitan Police last week acting on an extradition request from the Azeri authorities.
She was granted bail pending an extradition hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court but remained in custody because of an appeal by prosecutors.
At the High Court in London on Thursday, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker dismissed the appeal on behalf of the Azeri government, ruling there were no ‘substantial grounds’ to deny Mrs Hajiyeva bail.
As chairman of the International Bank of Azerbaijan, Jahangir Hajiyev and wife Zamira enjoyed all the privileges of the super-wealthy – travelling the world in a Gulfstream private jet and drinking the finest wines.
Only a brief kidnapping by her husband’s enemies in 2005 appears to have troubled striking brunette Zamira’s gilded life.
While never earning more than £54,000 a year at the bank, the couple assumed huge wealth, buying two-adjoining Belgravia townhouses for £11.5 million in cash in 2009 and an exclusive Berkshire golf course worth £10.5 million a few years later.
Mrs Hajiyeva’s home in Knightsbridge, central London, was bought through a British Virgin Islands firm with a mortgage of ‘up to £7,475,000’ the Evening Standard reports.
However the powerful couple’s multi-million financial empire came crashing down when Hajiyev was arrested in his native Azerbaijan in December 2015 accused of embezzling more than £100 million from the bank. He is currently serving a 15-year jail sentence in the country for fraud and embezzlement.
Luxury items Zamira bought at Harrods during her ten-year £16-million spending spree included a £48,600 piece of Cartier jewellery and three items of Boucheron jewellery worth £40,000, £42,000 and £39,000 – just weeks before buying her £11,500 million Belgravia home.
Heralded for his professional acumen, Hajiyev was awarded the prestigious Queen Victoria Commemorative Medal and named Best Banker in a Crisis by Europe’s business leaders, for his role in leading Azerbaijan through the 2008 financial crisis.
Hajiyev’s personal wealth was valued at £55 million in 2011, court documents have revealed.
Zamira revealed her husband gave her a £1 million-plus present and received a monthly allowance of £20,000 but she began selling off the ‘family silver’ at Christie’s, after he was arrested, court papers have shown.
Zamira fled Azerbaijan but she was arrested ‘in absentia’ on charges of ‘misappropriation of state funds’ and remains on Azerbaijan’s ‘wanted-list’.