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Following the introduction of the Criminal Finances Act 2017, the UK issued its first Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) in 2018. 
The UWO was issued against Zamira Hajiyeva, wife of Jahangir Hajiyev, chairman of the biggest bank in Azerbaijan. Mr Hajiyev is currently serving a 15-year custodial sentence for fraud, embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds. 
Between 2003 and 2015, the spouses spent over £30 million pounds, including to purchase a Knightsbridge townhouse (£11.5 million), a golf course and club near Ascot (£10.5 million) and Zamira allegedly spent £16.3 million in Harrods from 2006 to 2016. The couple also purchased a Gulfstream jet. 
Now, you may be wondering why this is a suspicious purchasing pattern. Well, as the bank that Mr Hajiyev worked for was state-owned, his annual salary was $70,650.00 in 2008, and Mrs Hajiyeva had no job or identifiable income of her own. Therefore, if we assume that Mr Hajiyev’s salary was around the same amount year-after-year, we can assume that he earned around £847,800.00 over the 12-year period, meaning that the pair spent over 45 times their income. 

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This, in itself, should have raised flags in terms of anti-money laundering procedures and there have, off the back of this, been calls to tighten procedures
In a similar story recently, two young first-time buyers lost the sum of £94,000.00 when funds were stolen from them by fraudsters, which they thought had been safely transferred to their local property solicitors. Whilst the fraud is being investigated by police, there are concerns that the young first-time buyers will not receive their deposit money back, which is devastating for them. 
In this case, the fraudsters intercepted emails between the solicitors and the first-time buyers, imitating the solicitors’ emails and providing a set of their own bank details. 
Sadly, in both of these cases, innocent people have been negatively affected, so how does our team of local solicitors in Preston and Lancaster ensure that our clients don’t fall victim to scams? 
Well, firstly all of our client’s identities are vigorously checked in line with our anti-money laundering procedures. We ask all clients to prove their identity using photographic ID and proof of their residence. 
Secondly, we provide all of our clients with our bank details, in writing, at the outset of their matter and we advise them that these will not change at any point throughout their matter. Likewise, all of bank details are provided in writing when we raise any invoice with a balance due from our clients. This way, our clients have the bank details in writing from us and can check these before making any payments. 
Our team of solicitors in Preston and Lancaster also remain vigilant against any phishing emails that, unfortunately, like every other solicitor’s office in Preston and Lancaster, we do occasionally receive. 
So, if you want to make sure that your property purchase is dealt with by someone that you can trust, contact our expert team on or pop into your local office
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