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How ‘McMafia’ wealth order woman spent £16 million at Harrods

Zamira Hajiyeva, 55, bought luxury jewellery, designer fashion and perfume at the luxury department store.

Harrods department store, Knightsbridge, London (PA)
Harrods department store, Knightsbridge, London (PA)

Luxury jewellery, designer fashion and perfume were on the shopping list of the woman slapped with the UK’s first unexplained wealth order as she spent £16 million in Harrods.

Zamira Hajiyeva, 55, blew £600,000 in a single day during a decade-long spending spree as she splashed out on some of the world’s most expensive brands.

She spent £5.75 million at jewellers Boucheron and Cartier, and paid six-figure sums shopping for fashion brands including Dennis Basso, Celine, Fendi and Christian Dior.

Mrs Hajiyeva, the wife of jailed Azerbaijani banker Jahangir Hajiyev, 57, was targeted by the National Crime Agency (NCA) when so-called McMafia anti-corruption laws came into force last year.

UK authorities want to know how the couple could afford to buy an £11.5 million Knightsbridge house a few minutes’ walk from Harrods and a £10.5 million golf club in Ascot, Berkshire.

Two Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) have been granted against mother-of-three Mrs Hajiyeva, while a judge found she spent more than £16 million in the luxury department store between September 2006 and June 2016.

The scale of her spending can be laid bare for the first time on Tuesday after a tranche of High Court documents was released to the media.

Transactions, linked to three separate loyalty cards and 35 credit cards issued by her husband’s bank, are detailed across 95 pages. They reveal she spent:

– £4 million at luxury jewellers Boucheron;

– £1.75 million at Cartier, famous for its watches and jewellery;

– £1 million in the Harrods toy department, including a single purchase of £790,000;

– £600,000 in a single day;

– £250,000 in the store’s perfumery;

– Hundreds of thousands of pounds on designer fashion brands, including £131,300 at Dennis Basso, £144,000 at Celine, £136,000 at Fendi and £143,000 at Christian Dior in single visits.

– £30,000 in one payment to gourmet Belgian chocolate chain Godiva.

– £2,400 on wine and spirits in a single purchase.

The documents list spending by department and do not contain details of individual items bought, so it is possible goods from one area of the store were paid for in another.

Some of the bigger transactions, including six-figure sums, are not itemised at all or appear in categories such as “international” or “non-trade services”.

The Harrods website states its black tier reward scheme, for customers who spend more than £10,000 a year, offers three points for every £1 spent, with 500 points earning £5.

So, for spending £16 million, Mrs Hajiyeva could have built up £480,000, although the £16 million figure already includes £3 million spending in gift cards and benefits.

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A £1.1 million Cartier diamond ring seized by the NCA

Other documents reveal Mrs Hajiyeva made 38 visits to a Harrods safe deposit box between January 2011 and April 2016 in which she could not keep “articles which are unlawful or which in Harrods’ reasonable opinion might damage the reputation of Harrods”.

The signed agreement stated she would not store more than 15,000 Euros (around £13,200) in cash and said: “I understand this proviso includes any proceeds of crime anywhere in the world.”

Her husband was the chairman of the state-controlled International Bank of Azerbaijan (IBA) from 2001 until his resignation in 2015 and was subsequently sentenced to 15 years for fraud and embezzlement.

The court ordered him to pay the IBA around 39 million US dollars (around £30 million) and confiscated his watch, worth around £50,000, a gold plaque inscribed with his name and position, and a gold coin.

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An item of jewellery seized by the NCA (NCA/PA)

Mrs Hajiyeva, who was granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK in 2015, is also facing extradition to Azerbaijan over allegations of embezzlement.

Her application to the Home Office for a visa meant for wealthy investors included evidence of a Swiss bank account with deposited funds “in excess of £1 million”, while a sum of just over £1 million was invested in UK Government bonds.

The Knightsbridge house was bought for £11.5 million in 2009 by a company registered in the British Virgin Islands and now has an estimated value of £15 million.

The Mill Ride Golf Club was bought for £10.5 million in 2013 by a Guernsey-based company, but investigators believe both properties are ultimately owned by Mrs Hajiyeva and her husband.

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An item of Cartier jewellery seized by the NCA (NCA/PA)

A newly released document outlining Mr Hajiyeva’s net worth in 2011 said he owned a £15 million villa on the Italian island of Sardinia, as well as a £5 million house and a £2 million flat in Baku.

Investigators also believe the couple had access to a 42.5 million US dollars (around £33 million) Gulfstream G550 jet bought by another company linked to Mr Hajiyev.

In witness statements submitted to the High Court, the NCA said Mrs Hajiyeva may have needed to raise money to maintain her lifestyle following her husband’s arrest, with high-value jewellery worth more than £1.5 million sold off at Christies between December 2015 and June 2016.

A £1.1 million Cartier diamond ring, as well as 49 items of jewellery worth more than £400,000 have been seized by the NCA.

When Mrs Hajiyeva unsuccessfully attempted to overturn one of the UWOs in October, her lawyers claimed her husband’s conviction was the result of a “show trial” and that his guilt “had been determined by the presidential administration in advance”.

“The decision of the High Court upholding the grant of an Unexplained Wealth Order against Zamira Hajiyeva does not and should not be taken to imply any wrongdoing, whether on her part or that of her husband,” they said.

They also said the UWO was part of an investigative process, not a criminal procedure, and did not involve the finding of any criminal offence.

Mrs Hajiyeva has been granted permission to appeal the High Court’s decision by the Court of Appeal.

A Harrods spokeswoman said: “As with any investigation, Harrods has comprehensively and ardently cooperated with all appropriate authorities and assisted with all inquiries.

“Harrods’ compliance with, and adherence to, the strongest anti-money laundering policies is a fundamental principle of the company’s operations.

“In this instance, where Harrods cooperated with a wider investigation, there has never been any suggestion that Harrods has operated in any way other than in full compliance with the highest regulatory and legal standards.”

PA

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