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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

Wife of disgraced Azeri banker detained in London

Zamira Hajiyeva handed herself in last week after extradition request by Azerbaijan

Jailed Azerbaijan banker Jahangir Hajiyev speaking at a session of the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2011. Bloomberg
Jailed Azerbaijan banker Jahangir Hajiyev speaking at a session of the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2011. Bloomberg

The wife of a disgraced banker jailed in Azerbaijan for 15 years has been arrested in London and faces extradition.

The arrest is the latest legal woe for Zamira Hajiyeva who faces the loss of two UK properties worth £22 million (Dh106.1m) in the first use of a new British police tactic aimed at tackling high-level international corruption.

Her husband, Jahangir Hajiyev, was jailed in 2016 of fraud and embezzling the state-owned International Bank of Azerbaijan. While he languished in a prison cell, she had continued to live in London where she spent £16m in the upmarket Harrods store over a decade, court documents revealed last month.

She now faces two charges of embezzlement herself following an extradition request by authorities in Azerbaijan and has been in detention since last week, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

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UK targets London properties of jailed Azeri banker

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Police first went after Mrs Hajiyeva in February but her lawyers had claimed that her husband was the victim of an unfair trial.

UK law enforcement used a new tactic to target two of the couple’s properties owned through a web of offshore companies - a grand double-fronted home in the heart of upmarket Knightsbridge bought for £11.5m in 2009, and a golf club in the wealth suburban town of Ascot, Berkshire.

Police also seized jewellery worth more than £400,000 last week while it was being valued by the international auction house Christie's.

Britain’s National Crime Agency, which is responsible for international corruption, has said that £90 billion is likely to be a significant underestimate of the sums of corrupt and criminal cash flowing through Britain every year.