Woman who spent $21M at Harrods fights UK wealth order

A bus passes in front of Harrods department store in Knightsbridge, central London. (Reuters)
Updated 10 October 2018
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Woman who spent $21M at Harrods fights UK wealth order

LONDON: A woman from Azerbaijan who spent 16 million pounds ($21 million) at luxury London department store Harrods over the course of a decade has become the first target of a British power to seize money from people suspected of getting their wealth through corruption.
A court has ordered Zamira Hajjiyeva to explain where she got the money to also buy an 11.5 million pound ($15 million) London home close to Harrods and a golf course outside the city.
Hajjiyeva’s husband, former International Bank of Azerbaijan chairman Jahangir Hajjiyev, was sentenced to 15 years in jail in his home country in 2016 for fraud and embezzlement.
The case marks Britain’s first use of Unexplained Wealth Orders, introduced this year in a bid to curb London’s status as a haven for ill-gotten gains. The orders allow authorities to seize assets over 50,000 pounds ($66,000) from people suspected of corruption or links to organized crime until the owners account for how they were acquired.
Hajjiyeva denies wrongdoing and is fighting to overturn the order and hang onto her properties.
During previous court hearings she was identified only as Mrs. A, but a court order granting her anonymity was lifted Wednesday.
Hajjileva’s lawyers said in a statement that the issuing of a wealth order “does not and should not be taken to imply any wrong-doing, whether on her part or that of her husband.”
They said the order “is part of an investigative process, not a criminal procedure, and it does not involve the finding of any criminal offense.”


Death toll reaches 73 in Mexico fuel pipeline fire horror

Updated 20 January 2019
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Death toll reaches 73 in Mexico fuel pipeline fire horror

  • The explosion of the illegal pipeline in central Mexico killed more than 70 people
  • The new president promised earlier to fight the epidemic of fuel theft

TLAHUELILPAN, Mexico: They were warned to stay away from the geyser of gasoline gushing from the illegally tapped pipeline in central Mexico, but Gerardo Perez says he and his son joined others in bypassing the soldiers. As they neared the spurting fuel he was overcome with foreboding.
Perez recalls telling his son: “Let’s go ... this thing is going to explode.”
And it did, with a fireball that engulfed locals scooping up the spilling gasoline and underscored the dangers of an epidemic of fuel theft from pipelines that Mexico’s new president has vowed to fight.
By Saturday evening the death toll from Friday’s blaze had risen to 73, with another 74 people injured and dozens more were missing. Perez and his son escaped the flames.