A woman who spent £16m at Harrods over a period of a decade has now been identified as Zamira Hajiyeva, who is the first target for the UK’s new anti-corruption law.
Mrs Hajiyeva lost a legal battle to stay anonymous after the media argued that the public had a right to know all of the facts surrounding the case. She now risks losing her £15m home if she fails to explain the source of her wealth to the High Court.
Under the terms of the UK’s first ever Unexplained Wealth Order, Mrs Hajiyeva, must now provide the National Crime Agency with a clear account of how she and her husband could afford to buy their home in Knightsbridge.
Mrs Hajiyeva’s lawyers have said that the UWO “does not and should not be taken to imply any wrongdoing” by her or her husband. They have since applied for permission to appeal against the order.
What is an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO)?
An Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) is a new power which has been designed to target suspected corrupt foreign officials who have potentially laundered money through the UK.
Investigators from the National Crime Agency have reason to believe that there are billions of pounds of fraudulent money invested in British property, although it is believed to be almost impossible to charge the owners with a crime or seize the assets due to a lack of evidence.
The new Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) law is therefore an attempt to force the owners to disclose the source of their wealth.
If a suspected corrupt foreign official, or their family, cannot prove a legitimate source for their riches, then the National Crime Agency can apply to the High Court to seize the property.
One of our Tax Fraud Solicitor, Steve Kirby, said the following in relation to the case:
“The net of financial recovery continues to grow with new methods of enforcement – Unexplained Wealth Orders, Deferred Prosecution Agreements, Civil Recovery in the criminal courts, Failure to Prevent Tax Evasion, increased investigatory powers and increased use of confiscation orders shows a determination and focus on the end product – cash.”