Zamira Hajiyeva, the wife of the former head of the International Bank of Azerbaijan Jahangir Hajiyev, would be brought to justice without a court decision if she would face the same charges in Singapore instead of the UK, Trend reports citing an article published on JDSUPRA.
The Singapore Parliament passed the Serious Crimes and Counter-Terrorism (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill on November 19, 2018, creating the new Section 47AA of the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (CDSA), reads the article.
Reportedly, Section 47AA of the CDSA now makes it an offence for any individual or company to possess or use any property that may be reasonably suspected of wholly or partly being the proceedings of drug dealing or other serious crimes, unless the individual or company can satisfactorily explain the provenance of the property. Individuals or companies convicted of such an offence face heavy fines and imprisonment (for individuals), on top of the seizure and forfeiture of the property in question.
What is the difference between Section 47AA and the UK Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) against Zamira Hajiyeva?
It appears from a comparison between the two regimes that the Singapore regime is more encompassing, i.e., it applies in wider factual situations to trigger the shift of the burden of proof to the respondent to explain the provenance of the property. Section 47AA is also a criminal provision and will no doubt be utilised by the Singapore enforcement agencies to ensure suspects cooperate on pain of further prosecution. The Singapore enforcement agency need not apply to the Singapore courts for a UWO; it simply has to alert a suspect to the operation of Section 47AA and this alone is likely to compel cooperation, reads the article.
The author recalls that in February 2018, the UK National Crime Agency successfully obtained a UWO against Zamira Hajiyeva, to force her to account, among other things, for the purchase of a London property.
When Hajiyeva attempted to avoid providing any account by applying to discharge the UWO, the High Court refused the application, holding that the UWO had been correctly made. If Hajiyeva were under investigation in Singapore, Section 47AA would have likely negated the need for a UWO application to the court. Hajiyeva would have been required to account satisfactorily for the receipt of the property in question. If she could not, she would have been charged with an offence.
Zamira Hajiyeva became the first person to be served a UWO by the National Crime Agency in 2018. The UWO means she has to explain the origin of her fortune.
Hajiyeva was demanded to submit a declaration for a villa worth Pound 25 million, but she could not provide information. As a result, the property was confiscated by a court decision.
Later it was revealed at Westminster Magistrates Court in London that Hajiyeva was arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police acting on an extradition request from the authorities in the Azerbaijan capital, Baku. Soon after that she was freed on bail.
Source: TREND News Agency