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AML judgement: Crime agency chalks up property ‘Unexplained Wealth Order’ success

NCA says Zamira Hajiyeva must now explain where her wealth comes from, or have properties worth £22m confiscated.

Nigel Lewis

nca unexplainted wealth orders aml

A woman who spent more than £16 million at Harrods over 10 years will have to give up her £15m home unless she reveals the source of her fortune under AML laws.

Zamira Hajiyeva, the wife of jailed Azerbaijani banker, Jahangir Hajiyev, has lost her final appeal against a court order forcing her to reveal how she came by so much money.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) is now poised to seize £22m worth of property, including her home in Knightsbridge and an £11m property on a Berkshire golf course.

The case highlights the ‘red flags’ that the Home Office wants estate agents to watch out for when dealing with buyers under its Anti-Money Laundering or AML rules including politically exposed persons – or PEPs – and purchases involving offshore companies.or

Supreme court

The supreme court announced it had refused Zamira Hajiyeva’s permission to appeal application against the unexplained wealth order (UWO) made against her.

She had already failed to convince the court of appeal and the high court to overturn the order, secured in 2018.

UWOs – nicknamed McMafia laws after the hit BBC1 drama – are a tool to help investigators crack down on the £90bn tide of “dirty money” flooding into London by forcing people to prove their wealth is legitimate.

amlGraeme Biggar (pictured), director general of the national economic crime centre at the NCA, says it’s a significant result which will set a helpful precedent for future UWO cases.

He adds: “There are no further routes for Mrs Hajiyeva to appeal against the order. She will now be required to provide the NCA with the information we are seeking in connection with these assets.”

Hajiyeva denies any wrongdoing and her lawyers have said the case against her husband was politically motivated.

December 22, 2020

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