By Patrick Sawer |The Telegraph|
The wife of a convicted Azerbaijani banker spent £30,000 in one day on luxury chocolates during an incredible £16 million spending spree at Harrods.
Zamira Hajiyeva made the payment at the store’s gourmet Belgian chocolate outlet Godiva, which provides luxury chocolate hampers for as much as £600, along with bespoke gift sets.
Court papers have revealed she spent £1.6 million a year at the shop in Knightsbridge between 2006 and 2016, including £1 million in the toy department and £5.75 million at the jewellery designers Boucheron and Cartier.
In one single transaction in the toy department – where toy prams cost almost £500, stuffed giant bears £2,500 and a life sized Winnie the Pooh bear £999 – Mrs Hajiyeva spent £790,000.
Her extravagant spending was revealed after an investigation into the source of her wealth was mounted by the National Crime Agency (NCA), following the conviction of her husband on corruption charges.
£16m at Harrods | The 95-page spending dossier
The scale of Zamira Hajiyeva spending can be laid bare for the first time on Tuesday after a tranche of High Court documents was released to the media.
Transactions, linked to three separate loyalty cards and 35 credit cards issued by her husband’s bank, are detailed across 95 pages.
They reveal she spent:
- £4million at luxury jewellers Boucheron
- £1.75million at Cartier, famous for its watches and jewellery
- £1million in the Harrods toy department, including a single purchase of £790,000
- £600,000 in a single day
- £250,000 in the store’s perfumery
- Hundreds of thousands of pounds on designer fashion brands, including £131,300 at Dennis Basso, £144,000 at Celine, £136,000 at Fendi and £143,000 at Christian Dior in single visits
- £30,000 in one payment to gourmet Belgian chocolate chain Godiva
- £2,400 on wine and spirits in a single purchase.
Using so-called McMafia anti-corruption laws which came into force last year the NCA wanted to establish how the couple could afford to buy an £11.5 million Knightsbridge house a few minutes’ walk from Harrods and a £10.5 million golf club in Ascot, Berkshire.
As part of the UK’s first ever Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) which were granted against the mother-of-three a judge found she spent more than £16 million in the luxury department store.
On one day alone in 2014 Mrs Hajiyeva, the wife of jailed banker Jahangir Hajiyev, paid a £53,200 bill at the Harrods sandwich bar and furniture concession outlet, which had been opened that year by the British designer Tom Dixon.
It is thought the amount was paid to settle an accumulated bill which she had run up at Tom Dixon’s outlet over a number of weeks.
Documents released by the High Court yesterday showed that during the course of 2014 she spent a total of £167,000 at Dixon’s furniture and cafe outlet, which boasted that it served “the classic British snack with a refined twist” as well as selling items of his designer furniture.
Prices for a sandwich at the Harrods Tom Dixon concession, which has since closed, varied from £12.90 for the ‘London Porker’, a bbq hog roast with apple coleslaw, and £18.50 for poached lobster with mango relish in a soft glazed roll.
His furniture came at a cost, with a wingback chair as much as £3,500, a book case £2,000 and a console table £2,550.
During her 10-year spending spree Mrs Hajiyeva, 55, also blew £433,389.79 on Cartier jewellery in one day and paid six-figure sums shopping for fashion brands including Dennis Basso, Celine and Fendi.
She also spent thousands on La Perla and Agent Provocateur lingerie, children’s books, and a ‘Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo’ Disney fairtytale makeover experience for children.
Such was her love of luxury design wear that one one day in February 2015 she paid a bill of £286,110 for Christian Dior items.
The scale of her spending was laid bare for the first time yesterday following the release of a tranche of High Court documents linked to the NCA investigation.
Mrs Hajiyeva’s transactions – on three separate loyalty cards and 35 credit cards issued by her husband’s bank – show she also spent:
– £5,650 on food and drink at The Burger Bar, where burgers cost between £20 and £29, an Australian Wagyu sirloin steak is £75 and a bottle of champagne £88.
– £133,220 on Dennis Basso designer clothes in one day
– £250,000 in the store’s perfumery;
The documents list spending by department and do not contain details of individual items bought, so it is possible goods from one area of the store were paid for in another or could also have been a total bill for purchases over a period of time from that department.
Some of the bigger transactions, including six-figure sums, are not itemised at all or appear in categories such as “international” or “non-trade services”.
Mrs Hajiyeva’s husband was the chairman of the state-controlled International Bank of Azerbaijan (IBA) from 2001 until his resignation in 2015 and was subsequently sentenced to 15 years in his native country for fraud and embezzlement.
The court ordered him to pay the IBA around 39 million US dollars (around £30 million) and confiscated his watch, worth around £50,000, a gold plaque inscribed with his name and position, and a gold coin.
Mrs Hajiyeva, who was granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK in 2015, is also facing extradition to Azerbaijan over allegations of embezzlement.
Her application to the Home Office for a so called ‘golden visa’ meant for wealthy investors included evidence of a Swiss bank account with deposited funds “in excess of £1 million”, while a sum of just over £1 million was invested in UK Government bonds.
A newly released document outlining Mr Hajiyeva’s net worth in 2011 said he owned a £15 million villa on the Italian island of Sardinia, as well as a £5 million house and a £2 million flat in Baku.
In witness statements submitted to the High Court, the NCA said Mrs Hajiyeva may have needed to raise money to maintain her lifestyle following her husband’s arrest, with high-value jewellery worth more than £1.5 million sold off at Christies between December 2015 and June 2016.
A £1.1 million Cartier diamond ring, as well as 49 items of jewellery worth more than £400,000 were seized last year by the NCA.
When Mrs Hajiyeva unsuccessfully attempted to overturn one of the UWOs in October, her lawyers claimed her husband’s conviction was the result of a “show trial” and that his guilt “had been determined by the presidential administration in advance”.
“The decision of the High Court upholding the grant of an Unexplained Wealth Order against Zamira Hajiyeva does not and should not be taken to imply any wrongdoing, whether on her
part or that of her husband,” they said.
They also said the UWO was part of an investigative process, not a criminal procedure, and did not involve the finding of any criminal offence.
In a statement Harrods said: “Harrods compliance with, and adherence to, the strongest anti-money laundering policies is a fundamental principle of the company’s operations. 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.”
Harrods also said on Tuesday night that since tills are often moved around departments without their name being changed it was not necessarily the case that all items allocated to a particular till were bought in the department with that name.