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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men