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
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick