Jailed Azerbaijani Banker Accused of Disrupting UK Forfeiture Proceedings

Former Azerbaijani banker Jahangir Hajiyev, serving 15 years in prison, is accused of disrupting UK proceedings to forfeit his wife's £16M jewelry collection. The case highlights challenges in pursuing asset forfeiture against individuals with complex international ties.

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Rizwan Shah
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Jailed Azerbaijani Banker Accused of Disrupting UK Forfeiture Proceedings

Jailed Azerbaijani Banker Accused of Disrupting UK Forfeiture Proceedings

Jahangir Hajiyev, a former chairman of the International Bank of Azerbaijan who is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence in Baku for embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds, has been accused of disrupting legal proceedings in the United Kingdom aimed at forfeiting his wife Zamira Hajiyeva's £16 million jewelry collection from Harrods. The National Crime Agency (NCA) alleges that Hajiyev has made contradictory statements regarding his willingness to participate in the forfeiture proceedings.

According to the NCA, Hajiyev has informed Azerbaijani authorities that he does not wish to take part in the UK proceedings, while simultaneously instructing his lawyer and sister to convey the opposite message. The agency argues that Hajiyev's actions are a deliberate attempt to create "some kind of political or publicity seeking lever" and that the forfeiture litigation should be allowed to continue despite his imprisonment.

However, Hajiyeva's legal team contends that the proceedings should be halted due to Hajiyev's inability to participate. They have accused the NCA of breaching its duty of candor and using excessive redactions in the disclosed material related to the case. Hajiyeva's lawyers argue that the forfeiture application should be thrown out as an abuse of process because Hajiyev cannot effectively take part in the proceedings.

Why this matters: The case highlights the challenges faced by authorities in pursuing asset forfeiture cases against individuals with complex international ties and the potential for legal proceedings to be disrupted by the actions of defendants. The outcome of this case could set a precedent for similar forfeiture proceedings in the future.

The presiding judge has adjourned the hearing and is not expected to decide whether the NCA's attempt to secure forfeiture of Hajiyeva's jewelry collection can proceed until later in 2024 at the earliest. The NCA maintains that the forfeiture litigation should be allowed to continue, as Hajiyev can participate through his legal representation, despite his imprisonment in Azerbaijan.

Key Takeaways

  • Jahangir Hajiyev, ex-chairman of Intl Bank of Azerbaijan, serving 15-yr sentence
  • Accused of disrupting UK proceedings to forfeit wife Zamira's £16M jewelry
  • NCA alleges Hajiyev made contradictory statements on participation in forfeiture
  • Hajiyeva's lawyers argue forfeiture should be halted due to Hajiyev's absence
  • Judge to decide later in 2024 if NCA's forfeiture attempt can proceed