Browsing through a luxury department store, it's natural to imagine what you'd buy if money were no object. Crates of fine wine from the food hall? A Gucci-filled wardrobe? A jewellery-box worth of Cartier jewels?
Well, one woman had quite the time in London's exclusive Harrods department store – but she probably regrets it now. Zamira Hajiyeva was arrested after spending £16m in the Knightsbridge store and now faces extradition, after becoming the subject of the UK's first Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO), the BBC reported.
The 55-year-old lives in a £15m house near the famous London store and is married to a jailed banker, who is currently serving a 15-year sentence for defrauding his state-owned bank in the couple's home country, Azerbaijan, out of hundreds of millions of euros.
Last month, Hajiyeva became the first person in the UK to be served a UWO, which means she now has to explain to the National Crime Agency where the money came from. Her identity had been protected under an anonymity order up to that point and she was known simply as 'Mrs A'.
A court heard how she spent the eye-watering sum on items such as jewellery – including a £120,000 Boucheron necklace – over a 10-year period on 35 credit cards issued by her husband's bank. Last week, £400,000 worth of jewellery connected to the case was seized from the auction house Christie's.
Hajiyeva was arrested by the Metropolitan police last week following an extradition request from authorities in the Azerbaijan capital, Baku, where she faces two embezzlement charges, reported the BBC. She has been held in custody since turning herself in voluntarily last week, and now risks losing two properties worth £22m.
At a bail hearing as part of the ongoing case, prosecutors told Westminster Magistrates Court that Hajiyeva posed a flight risk and should not be released. While her legal team argued she was a "spendthrift", "not a fraudster", was unlikely to flee the UK and flagged that her children were based in the UK, where she has been based for nearly 10 years after surviving a violent kidnapping in her home country.
To be released on bail, the judge rules that she would need to pay £500,000 as a guarantee, remain at home in Knightsbridge, not travel outside the M25 and report to police every day. But Hajiyeva challenged the ruling and an appeal hearing will take place on Thursday 8th November at the High Court. Meanwhile, the investigation into her unexplained wealth is ongoing. Watch this space.
This article has been updated. A previous headline read The Wild Reason This Woman Was Arrested For Spending £16m In Harrods.