Wife Of Jailed Azerbaijani Banker Detained In London
This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Zamira Hajiyeva, the wife of the jailed former boss of Azerbaijan's biggest bank, has been detained in London and faces extradition, the BBC reports.
It said Hajiyeva, 55, was detained by Metropolitan Police last week after an extradition request from authorities in Azerbaijan, where she faces two charges of embezzlement.
A judge at London's Westminster Magistrates Court ruled that Hajiyeva could be released on bail under certain conditions, according to the BBC.
However, prosecutors appealed the decision, meaning she will remain in custody pending an appeal on November 8.
Hajiyeva's husband, Jahangir Hajiyev, was chairman of the state-owned International Bank of Azerbaijan from 2001 to 2015. In 2016, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison after being found guilty of fraud and embezzlement, charges he denied, and was ordered to repay $29 million.
His wife fled the country and was given permission to live in Britain under a visa scheme for wealthy investors.
There, Hajiyeva's lavish lifestyle made her the first target of new legislation designed to target suspected corrupt foreign officials who have potentially laundered stolen money through Britain.
She is under investigation by Britain's National Crime Agency (NCA), which in February secured the country’s first-ever unexplained wealth order (UWO) to target Hajiyeva's wealth.
Under the order, the NCA can apply to court to seize property when a suspected corrupt foreign official, or their family, cannot identify a legitimate source of the funds used for buying it.
It has been revealed that Hajiyeva, who lives in a $20 million house in London, used as many as 35 credit cards issued by her husband's bank to spend more than $21 million at the luxury store Harrods over a decade.
Her legal team argued that she was a "spendthrift" -- not "a fraudster."
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