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The tale of a knightsbridge housekeeper

Stuart White

The World in Black-N-White

In days gone by it used to be said that ‘behind every successful man was a good woman’. Today those words would be considered both sexist and patronising since it assumes that only men are capable of career success, whilst women are relegated to ensuring that his home and leisure life runs as smoothly as possible, courtesy of ‘the little woman’, another patronising term for a housewife.

Add to that the adage that ‘a woman’s place is in the home’ and that sums up how life was only a few years ago.  A woman could get a job – nursing or secretarial say, then in the fullness of time marry a doctor or her boss, resign and become a full-time wife and mother where she would be expected to turn her hand to running a household, raising the children and generally managing the home. 

If she was also careful with money and clever at stretching the family budget that was considered an added bonus, just as well since she would probably be running everything on a shoestring, just enough to cover housekeeping and childcare needs whilst the head of the household and major breadwinner would handle big finance matters and major purchases.

Now, thrift in any household is still an asset.  The world has moved on, women now feature as prominently in the workforce as men and families where both parents work full-time is very much the norm.   But though a joint income helps the overall economic situation it also brings added expenses such as childcare, not to mention running two cars, two working wardrobes and a host of other hidden costs.; so even with a double income, the household budget has to be controlled and planned so that all bills are paid and debts are met to ensure that your lifestyle is properly funded and at the end of the year the books balance. 

As Charles Dickens’ character Mr. Micawber so cleverly states it ‘Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds, nineteen shillings and six (pence), result happiness.  Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.’

I wonder what that frugal, thrifty man would have made of the banker’s wife who has hit the headlines this week with her ability to magically stretch her husband’s modest income by several thousand percent?  Azerbaijani national Mrs Zamira Hajiyeva spent more than £16m (P400m) at the famous London department store, Harrods, over the course of a decade, as well as purchasing two properties worth a combined £22m (P550m). 

This prodigious spending spree is all the more remarkable considering that her husband’s income as the former Chairman of the country’s national Bank of Azerbaijan, was a mere £54,000 (P810,000) per annum.  Sadly spouse Jahangir Hajiyeva is now serving time in his native country for fraud and embezzlement after being convicted in 2016 and sentenced to 15 years in prison. 

Also wanted by the local police, his wife quickly and quietly moved to London where she and her daughter are now enjoying a lavish lifestyle and where, presumably to facilitate her shopaholic habit, Mrs. Hajiyeva  paid £11.5 (P280m) for a luxury home a short walk away from her favourite Knightsbridge store in which it is recorded that on one visit alone she blew more than £150,000 (P3,750,000) on items of Boucheron and Cartier jewellery, paying for the purchases using the 35 credit cards issued to her by her husband’s bank.

Meanwhile Mrs Hajiyeva’s daughter, who was at school in London, had shares worth more than £15 million (P450m) , paying dividends of a further £1m  (P15m a year).  The family also had a £32 million (P820m) private jet, a Gulfstream G550, financed by a company linked to Mr Hajiyev.  His wife’s second property acquisition was a a prestigious country golf club, that was purchased in 2013 for £10.5 million (P160m)  by a Guernsey-based company over which Mrs Hajiyeva is said to have exerted ‘significant control.

Talk about stretching your budget!

Well, it seems she may have to do exactly that since she has been ordered to prove the source of her wealth is legitimate or risk losing her lovely Knightsbridge home.  Under new UK anti-corruption laws, Zamira Hajiyeva was named in February  as the first person subject to Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) by the National Crime Agency (NCA) after the High Court lifted an anonymity order preventing reporting of the case.   

They required Mrs Hajiyeva to explain how she had obtained the funds to purchase the £22 million-worth of properties. Jonathan Hall QC, counsel for the NCA, outlined Mrs Hajiyeva’s luxury lifestyle, saying it was a sign that she was spending illicitly obtained money.  He added that some of the credit cards she used had been issued by her husband’s bank and that the ‘extraordinary nature’ of her spending was ‘strongly suggestive of spending money that did not belong’ to her.

Her husband, he said, was a state employee and that ‘it is very unlikely that such a position would have generated sufficient income to fund the acquisition of the property’. Documents produced in court showed Mr Hajiyev had a modest salary from 2001 to 2008 of between £22,000 and £54,000 (P330,000 & P810,000) But in a statement submitted to court, Mrs Hajiyeva said he had substantial means and was independently wealthy when they married in 1997.

‘He was very well-off when we married and had accumulated capital and wealth since the early 1990s,’ she said. ‘I understand, but have no way of evidencing the fact, that he had a number of business interests before joining the bank, and he maintained those investments. He also had a substantial portfolio of shares in the bank, and was always very proud that the bank was doing so well….As to the purchase of the property, this was my husband’s responsibility…I… had no knowledge of any of the payments made to purchase the property, our family home, their source, or any other detail.’

Her lawyers claimed the NCA was wrong to characterise Mr Hajiyev as a low-paid state employee and that he had earned his money legitimately as a businessman. ‘He was a fat-cat international banker who went to Davos as part of his activities,’ said James Lewis QC, representing Mrs Hajiyeva. ‘He was a well-known international banker at a commercial bank. He is not a civil servant any more than the chairman of RBS.’ (Royal Bank of Scotland)

Mrs. Hajieva’s identity become known last week when Mr Justice Supperstone  discharged an anonymity order, preventing identification of her  and her husband, their country of origin, the bank Mr Hajiyev worked for and the two properties under question.  On Tuesday, Lord Justice Sales dismissed an application to extend the anonymity order, ruling that “no good case” had been made for its extension.

Meanwhile Mrs Hajiyeva continues to deny any wrongdoing and is fighting to hold onto the properties covered by the order.  In a statement, her lawyers said: “The decision of the High Court upholding the grant of an Unexplained Wealth Order against Zamira Hajiyeva does not and should not be taken to imply any wrong-doing, whether on her part or that of her husband….. 

The NCA's case is that the UWO is part of an investigative process, not a criminal procedure, and it does not involve the finding of any criminal offence….On Mrs Hajiyeva's behalf, an application for permission to appeal against the order of Mr Justice Supperstone was filed on 8 October 2018….Mrs Hajiyeva has made clear her intention to engage fully in the judicial process and will present her case to the court as appropriate through her lawyers. She will, therefore, make no further comment at this time.”

So we await with interest Mrs. Hajiyeva’s chapter and verse on the fiduciary equivalent of Jesus and the five loaves and two fishes and none more keenly, I suspect, than the government of Azerbaijan one of whose citizens appears to have got through the GDP of a small country is very short order: a small country like, say, Azerbaijan!  As for Mrs. Hajiyeva, she, no doubt, will be hoping that in her case the term ‘housekeeping’ will taken quite literally.  After all, it is very close to the shops.

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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