Woman who spent $21M at Harrods arrested, faces extradition


The woman targeted by Britain's first Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO), who spent £16 million (RM66.43 million) in department store Harrods, will appear in court today as she fights an extradition request by Azerbaijan, prosectors said yesterday.

Hajiyeva, 55, is the first person to be subject to an Unexplained Wealth Order, a measure introduced by the United Kingdom at the beginning of the year in a bid to curb London's status as a haven for ill-gotten gains.

However, prosecutors appealed the decision, meaning she will remain in custody pending an appeal on November 8.

Over the course of a decade, the 55-year-old spent up big at the department store, with a court hearing she bought $180,000 worth of Cartier jewellery.

In court this week, her legal team said she was a "spendthrift", but was not a "fraudster". The orders allow authorities to seize assets from people suspected of corruption or links to organised crime until the owners account for how they were acquired.

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Westminster magistrates court in London ruled that the wife of the financier can be released on bail on certain conditions, including the prohibition to leave the house in the fashionable residential area of Knightsbridge, the need to report daily to the police and the payment of bail of 500 thousand pounds (572 thousand euros).

The agency already seized $722,000 worth of jewellery in connection to the Hajiyeva case, which included a $216,000 sapphire and ruby necklace.

Her husband was the chairman of the state-controlled International Bank of Azerbaijan from 2001 until his resignation in 2015, and was subsequently jailed for fraud and embezzlement. However, the crown prosecution, acting on behalf of the Azeri government, appealed, pushing the bail decision to the High Court, which will make a decision November 8.

She has been ordered to explain how she funds her lifestyle, which includes a £16million bill at Harrods over ten years.

They said the UWO was part of an investigative process, not a criminal procedure, and did not involve the finding of any criminal offence, and they said an application to appeal against the judge's order had been filed.