New details have surfaced on the lavish habits of a woman who's battling corruption charges in London after allegedly racking up $21 million at a Harrods department store by using 35 credit cards over a decade.
According to court documents released to British media, Zamira Hajiyeva, the wife of a jailed banker from Azerbaijan, spent almost $4.4 million on Boucheron jewellery and $1.8 million on Cartier luxury goods between 2006 and 2016.
Hajiyeva spent more than 315,000 pounds (almost $400,000) in a single day at Harrods more than 11 times over the 10-year period under investigation by the National Crime Agency, according to court documents seen by the Guardian. The newspaper also reported that Hajiyeva spent $317,000 in the Harrods' toy department and more than $530,000 at Tom Dixon's sandwich café during the same period.
On one eye-catching trip, Hajiyeva also spent an incredible $37,000 on gourmet chocolates in a single day at the luxury store Godiva, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The details emerged as part of a 107-page document released to media outlets that had petitioned the High Court for the public release of the receipts of Hajiyeva's spending.
Hajiyeva is being asked by the NCA to explain her "unexplained wealth" thanks to a new anti-corruption enforcement scheme designed to target organized crime figures and others with ties to foreign governments. The case is being heard in the High Court in London and is due to go to the appeals court later this year.
Although previously called "Mrs. A" in court filings, Hajiyeva's name was publicly released in October after she lost a court appeal to stay anonymous while defending herself on two Unexplained Wealth Orders related to her spending and real estate holdings. Her husband, Jahangir Hajiyev, the former head of the International Bank of Azerbaijan, was sentenced to 15 years in jail in his native country for fraud and embezzlement in 2016, The Associated Press reported.
In addition to her notorious spending habits, Hajiyeva's property in the wealthy London area of Knightsbridge is also under investigation, according to the NCA, which said it was bought through a company registered in the British Virgin Islands, a well-known tax haven. The property is valued at 11.5 million pounds (more than $15 million).
A second, first-of-its-kind Unexplained Wealth Order also was filed in relation to her ownership of a $13.5 million golf course, purchased through a different company.
Unexplained Wealth Orders are designed to target individuals who are unable to account for 50,000 pounds ($66,000) or more of their wealth and constitute a civil, not criminal, action. Targeted individuals must be able to trace their income to a legitimate source or face severe financial penalties.
The Unexplained Wealth Orders, introduced in 2018, are the latest steps taken by authorities to tackle financial crime in the U.K. capital, which has been nicknamed ‘Londongrad' due to the sheer scale of dirty money flowing into London from foreign countries.
The anti-corruption charity Transparency International sent ABC News documents that the group said identified $5.5 billion worth of U.K. property bought with suspicious money. The charity said there are a total of 86,000 properties owned by companies in jurisdictions where their ownership can't be traced.
The new details in the Hajiyeva case emerged as the NCA announced it had secured three more UWOs against properties linked to a "politically exposed person believed to be involved in serious crime." The UWOs are for three properties originally bought for more than $100 million, according to an NCA statement.
An Interim Freezing Order has been granted while investigators look into the origins of the property, meaning they cannot be sold during the investigation.
"This is the second time the NCA has successfully secured UWOs since the new legislation was enacted," Andy Lewis, head of Asset Denial at the NCA, said in a statement. "They are a powerful tool in being able to investigate illicit finance flowing into the U.K. and discourage it happening in the first place. The individuals behind these offshore companies now have to explain how the three properties were obtained."