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
people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?