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Supreme Court | Unexplained Wealth Orders | Rosenblatt’s Financial Crime Team

5th January 2021

On 21st December 2020 the Supreme Court ruled that a woman subject to an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) by the National Crime Agency (NCA) would not be allowed to challenge it.

National Crime Agency Investigation | Rosenblatt’s Financial Crime Team

The Supreme Court said Zamira Hajiyeva’s challenge to overturn the UWO raised no arguable point of law and therefore permission to appeal was refused. Hajiyeva was made subject of the UWO in 2018 after the NCA investigated the source of her funds, which included spending £16m in Harrods and purchasing a property in an exclusive area of London.

Hajiyeva must now comply with the Order and reveal how she came to acquire her wealth or the NCA may seize assets worth approximately £22m, which include a golf course in Berkshire. Hajiyeva’s husband, Jahangir Hajiyev, a former head of Azerbaijan’s state bank, is currently serving a 16-year prison sentence in the country for fraud and money laundering. Hajiyeva was arrested in the UK in October 2018 and subject to an extradition request by Azerbaijani authorities but this was refused by Westminster Magistrates’ Court in September 2019 on the grounds that she would not receive a fair trial.

Graeme Biggar, NCA Director General of the National Economic Crime Centre, said: “This is a significant result which is important in establishing Unexplained Wealth Orders as a powerful tool for financial investigations.”

“There are no further routes for Mrs Hajiyeva to appeal against the order. She will now be required to provide the NCA with the information we are seeking in connection with these assets.”

UWOs have been in the spotlight previously in 2020. In April, two members of Kazakhstan’s political elite won a High Court challenge against an UWO compelling them to surrender more than £80m of property after the court ruled parts of the NCA’s investigation was “inadequate”. The Order was initially secured due to suspicions that the properties in question were bought with the Proceeds of Crime. It has been reported that the NCA has settled the case. Rosenblatt has published an article on this matter on 22nd April 2020, which can be read here.

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Rosenblatt has a wealth of experience in financial crime and is uniquely placed to support clients that are the subject of a National Crime Agency investigation and prosecution having being involved in high profile investigations into a multi-million-pound, cross jurisdictional, money laundering operation and Account Freezing Order proceedings.

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Should you wish to discuss the services we offer further please contact Frances Murray from the Financial Crime team at frances.murray@rosenblatt-law.co.uk or +44 (0)20 7955 0880.