Hey big spender: UK court details woman’s $21M Harrods spree

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LONDON (AP) — Court documents made public Tuesday reveal that a woman suspected by British authorities of having ill-gotten wealth spent 600,000 pounds ($760,000) in one day at upmarket department store Harrods and once forked out 30,000 pounds ($38,000) on chocolates.

Zamira Hajiyeva is the first person subject to an Unexplained Wealth Order, which allows British authorities to seize assets from people suspected of corruption or links to organized crime until the owners account for how they were acquired.

Britain’s National Crime Agency wants to know where Hajiyeva, whose banker husband is in jail in Azerbaijan, got the money to fund her spending and buy two U.K. properties worth 22 million pounds ($28 million) — including a house just around the corner from Harrods.

Investigators say Hajiyeva spent 16 million pounds ($20 million) at Harrods between 2006 and 2016, using 35 credit cards issued by a bank led by her husband.

Harrods records disclosed at the High Court detail spending that includes 5.75 million pounds ($7.3 million) at jewelers Boucheron and Cartier, 1 million pounds ($1.27 million) in Harrods’ toy department and 30,000 pounds at chocolatier Godiva.

Harrods said in a stament that it complied with “the strongest anti-money laundering policies.”

“In this instance, where Harrods cooperated with a wider investigation, there has never been any suggestion that Harrods has operated in any way other than in full compliance with the highest regulatory and legal standards,” it said.

Hajiyeva’s husband, former International Bank of Azerbaijan Chairman Jahangir Hajiyev, was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 2016 for fraud and embezzlement.

Hajiyeva, 55, denies wrongdoing and has been granted permission to challenge her wealth order at the Court of Appeal. She is also fighting extradition to Azerbaijan.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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