This week scandal around the fortune of the UK resident Zamira Hajiyeva (55), who is wanted in Azerbaijan regarded as a beneficiary of her husband’s fraudulent banking operations, launches an anti-corruption campaign of the British government. While carrying out the first offensive on “unexplained” wealth” the UK specialized body the National Crime Agency led by Donald Toon has prepared eight other cases for descendants from Russia, ex-Soviet Union and Africa.
Unexplained Wealth Orders have “the potential to significantly reduce the appeal of the UK as a destination for illicit income,” Donald Toon, the director for economic crime at the National Crime Agency, (NCA) said in a statement.
Zamira fled Azerbaijan but she was arrested ‘in absentia‘ on charges of ‘misappropriation of state funds‘ and remains on Azerbaijan’s ‘wanted-list‘. However in a very recent past she had every reason to be proud of he husband.
Heralded for his professional acumen, the owner of the immense fortune, shared with his spouse, Jahangir Hajiyev was awarded the prestigious Queen Victoria Commemorative Medal and named Best Banker In A Crisis by Europe’s business leaders, for his role in leading Azerbaijan through the 2008 financial calamity.
Hajiyev‘s personal wealth was valued at £55 million in 2011, court documents have revealed. However the star of the banker faded when he was arrested and sentenced in a highly publicized trial in his native Azerbaijan, accused of massive fraud, and embezzlement. Oddly, the Azeri government did not not investigate potential criminal activity against the national bank Hajiyev charied, but only against the banker himself, and a small group of his associates. The systemic violations of laws in Hajiyev trial left many questions unanswered.
Azerbaijan is notorious for its authoritarian rule, manifesting itself in powers concentrated in the hands of the First Family: President Ilham Aliyev who inheritied his position from his father, and his wife, the vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva.
President Aliyev is using the power of the criminal justice system to undermine his potential challengers and “take the spotlight off of his own crimes’, wrote Bay Nabiyev, an Azeri lawyer commenting on Hajiyev case in “Jahangir Hajiyev and the Political Dungeons of Azerbaijan” for Medium news.
Zamira Hajiyeva, the wife of a jailed banker from Azerbaijan, is being asked to clarify the sources of her fortune due to a new anti-corruption enforcement scheme designed to target organized crime figures.
Hajiyeva explained that her husband gave her a £1 million plus presents and she received a monthly allowance of £20,000 but she began selling off precious objects at Christie’s, after he was arrested in 2015, court papers have shown.
“My husband was in 2009 a man of substantial means. He was very well off when we married in 1997 and has accumulated capital and wealth since the early 1990’s,” Hajiyeva argued in a witness statement to the High Court. She underlined that her husband entered the service of the International Bank of Azerbaijan (IBA) with a considerable personal fortune due to his knowledge and expertise, gaining him prominence in financial sector. He successfully led the largest bank of the country for 14 years, before his resignation, he also hold a position of the Chairman of Baku Stock Exchange.
Back in 2015 Jahangir Hajiyev, in his last word at Baku Court said that bank loans were used for their intended purpose, and income-generating enterprises were opened for these funds. Loans were returned on time. Hajiyev believes that these loans can not be considered as “problematic” because the time for their repayment has not expired. Problems with the return of loans began after his resignation. Hajiyev blamed the failures on Finance Minister Samir Sharifov, because he served as the representative of the Ministry of Finance who is the head of the permanent council of the IBA.
According to banker’s lawyer Fahriddin Mehtiyev, the criminal case against Hajiyev was investigated with gross procedural violations. The lawyer pointed to the illegal methods of the investigation by the Directorate General for Combating Organized Crime of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan systemically breaching the law.
Hajiyev was detained for 38 days in the the solitary confinement, in a gross violation of the Azeri law, said Mehtiyev, defending the interest of the banker, underlining that all 30 complains against these procedural violations were ignored. The entire court procedure was a sheer abuse of a criminal justice system, or as Georgia Today described it, the case against Jahangir Hajiyev resemble more of a “political score settling”.
“They used the financial crisis as an excuse to remove him as CEO of the bank in a manner that ensures that he will never return and challenge their positions of power,” wrote Georgia Today.
“…First Family simply changed the narrative. Not them. Him. Jahangir Hajiyev, who now sits in a jail cell on trumped-up charges in a nation ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world” – writes Bay Nabiyev in Medium, explaining the sudden fall of the most powerful banker of Azerbaijan by his potential to challenge President Aliyev illimited powers.
Jahangir Hajiyev: “Women should not be avenged for their husbands”, the banker said when he had to pay to one of his rivals –Gadji Mamedov – USD20 million to liberate his abducted wife Zamira in 2005.
According to British media Zamira Hajiyev acquired the following:
- £10 million on Mill Ride Golf Club in Berkshire
- £31 million on a Gulfstream G550 jet
- £150,000 on Boucheron jewellery n a single day
- £100,000 on Cartier jeweller.