UK Issues First Ever 'Unexplained Wealth Order'

The new law enforcement power targets money laundering
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2018 6:31 PM CDT
Zamira Hajiyeva spent some $21 million at Harrods (pictured) in London over a decade.   (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)

(Newser) – By all accounts, Zamira Hajiyeva has had it pretty good. For instance, the BBC reports, the London resident owns two properties valued at about $29 million and a Gulfstream jet worth more than $40 million, and she's had the resources to spend some $21 million at the London department store Harrods over the past decade. But she also has a husband, Jahangir Hajiyev, who is serving 15 years in prison after being convicted of fraud and embezzlement in his capacity as chairman of the International Bank of Azerbaijan. It all adds up to Hajiyeva becoming the first ever target of the UK's new Unexplained Wealth Order power, which targets foreign officials suspected of laundering stolen money through the UK.

In this case, Hajiyeva, 55, must explain how she paid for the two aforementioned properties, per CNN, which include a home in London and golf course estate in Berkshire. If she's unable to do that, she risks having the assets seized. In 2009, the according to the BBC, a company in the British Virgin Islands, ultimately traced to Hajiyeva and her husband, bought the London property. Another company linked to them bought the golf estate in 2013. Hajiyeva is living in the UK under a visa program for wealthy investors. Hajiyeva has denied any wrongdoing. The director of the UK's National Crime Agency says Unexplained Wealth Orders should be used more broadly to target some $6 billion in suspicious wealth. (Read more United Kingdom stories.)

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