UK deploys Unexplained Wealth Order law

A Rolls Royce drives past outside Harrods in London, Britain, 08 August 2018. EPA-EFE/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

UK deploys Unexplained Wealth Order law


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The former spouse of an Azeri banker, Zamira Hajiyeva, is the first target of a new UK’s Unexplained Wealth Order law, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

The new law is the latest legal tool against money laundering and forces Mrs Hajiyeva to explain the source of her wealth. Embarrassingly, she will need to explain the source of her income that allowed her to spend £16m over a decade. That is equivalent to £4,000 a day.

Mrs Hajijeva has a residence Visa since 2013, when a company she owns bought a £13 million property in Ascot, near London. The UK grants special residence rights to major foreign investors.

Now, UK authorities can at will demand to know the providence of that wealth. Failing to explain the providence of her wealth could result in the confiscation of assets, including a £15m residence in Knightsbridge, London.

The property was bought in 2016 by a British Virgin Islands-based company.

National Crime Agency investigators are suspicious about the providence of the money she spent, but the new Unexplained Wealth Order will place the onus on Mrs Hajiyeva to explain. Otherwise, she may lose assets of comparable value.

Mrs Hajiyeva’s former husband was the chairman of the International Bank of Azerbaijan, convicted of embezzlement and fraud in 2016. From 1993 to 2015 Mr Hajiyev was a state employee and his wealth is not justified by his income.

Her legal team maintains that the Unexplained Wealth Order against Zamira Hajiyeva does not imply any wrongdoing.

 

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