A woman who spent £16m in Harrods and is subject to the UK’s first McMafia-style “dirty money” investigation has been released on bail after nine days in custody following a request for her extradition to Azerbaijan.
Zamira Hajiyeva was arrested by the Metropolitan police last week at the request of authorities in Azerbaijan, where she is wanted on two charges of embezzlement. Her husband, Jahangir Hajiyev, was jailed in 2016 for defrauding Azerbaijan’s national bank out of up to 5bn manat (£2.2bn).
Hajiyeva was released on bail on Thursday after a high court judge dismissed a request by the Azerbaijani government to have her held in custody until an extradition hearing. Mr Justice Jeremy Baker said there were no “substantial grounds” to deny Hajiyeva bail.
Hajiyeva, 55, denies the charges. She is the first target of the UK’s new system of unexplained wealth orders, which have been nicknamed McMafia laws after the BBC One drama. Hajiyeva, who was known only as Mrs A until an anonymity order was lifted last month, risks losing two UK properties worth £22m if she fails to explain there was a legitimate source of the funds used to buy a £11.5m townhouse in Knightsbridge, central London, and a £10.5m golf course near Ascot, Berkshire.
Earlier this year, a court heard Hajiyeva spent more than £16m at Harrods over the course of a decade. Last week, jewellery worth £400,000 was seized from Christie’s auction house in connection with the case.
Hajiyeva’s lawyer said: “Our client remains confident that she will defeat this abusive and politically motivated extradition request in due course.
“Our client is a 55-year-old mother of three with the strongest possible ties to the UK, and it is unfortunate that she was forced to spend over nine days in custody despite having cooperated fully with the UK authorities and surrendered to them by appointment in respect of this request.”
The judge ruled Hajiyeva should be released on bail but be subject to a 9pm-to-6am curfew. She must also be subject to electronic tagging, report to Charing Cross police station every morning and not travel outside the M25.