Senior barrister who specialised in fraud cases guilty of VAT scam

 

A senior barrister and expert in fraud cases was convicted today after he “disappeared off the VAT radar” in a “preposterous” ploy to avoid paying hundreds of thousands of pounds of tax.

Rohan Pershad QC, pocketed the money which he used to splash out on two properties worth more than £1.5 million.

The "financially astute" lawyer from Hammersmith, west London, accrued more than £600,000 over a 12-year period as part of the scam.

He was today found guilty of cheating the public revenue at London's Blackfriars Crown Court after the jury was asked to give a majority verdict following more than nine hours of deliberations.

Pershad, wearing a grey suit and blue tie, showed little emotion as the verdict was given.

He is due to be sentenced on February 26 and was released on bail until then.

During his nine-day trial, jurors heard that most barristers were self-employed and were legally required to pay their own VAT.

But Pershad stopped doing so in 1999, shortly before he moved to the Thirty Nine Essex Street chambers.

He then fell off the tax register, meaning he "disappeared off the VAT radar" and was classed as a "missing trader".

But he carried on working.

Prosecutor Andrew Marshall told the court: "Through all of that time, he was collecting the VAT.

"It's just that for that period of 12 years, whilst it was being collected in, it wasn't being accounted for or handed over as VAT.

"It provided him, if you think about it, with a private, tax-free income because VAT was not being paid. This money, it stayed with Mr Pershad."

His online CV depicted a lawyer with a "particular expertise in fraud cases," Mr Marshall added.

"This is a man that is used to looking at other people's business and dissecting it and finding fault in it," he told jurors.

The lawyer - who specialised in financial disputes, professional negligence and insurance cases - used the money he saved in VAT to buy two homes.

He splashed out on a property in Somerset for £490,000 in July 2007 and then, a month later, another in Virginia Water, Surrey, for £1,105,000.

Pershad denied the charge against him, claiming he believed Thirty Nine Essex Street paid his VAT.

But his defence - branded "preposterous" by the prosecution - was rejected by the jury.

Donald Toon, director of criminal investigation at HMRC, said: "Pershad's 12-year history of tax evasion was blatant theft from the public purse.

"He thought he was above the law, but someone in his profession should have known better than to try to cheat the system, as HMRC will not stand by while criminals try to cheat the taxpayer.

"Declaring and paying VAT that is due is a legal requirement - not a lifestyle choice - so we are pleased that justice has been served. We would like to thank the chambers involved for their assistance in this case."

PA

News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on