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Barrister sentenced to 3½ years for tax fraud

Press Release   •   Feb 26, 2013 12:12 GMT

A barrister convicted of tax fraud for failing to pay more than £600,000 in VAT was sentenced to three and a half years in prison today.

Rohan Pershad, 44, of London, was convicted after HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators found he had failed to declare or pay £627,839 of VAT for 12 years. Pershad, who practiced in London, instead spent the cash on two luxury homes in Surrey and Somerset, and private school fees for his children.

Pershad’s VAT registration was cancelled by HMRC in 2003 with effect from 1999, after a history of failure to submit tax returns and to tell HMRC (formerly HM Customs and Excise) about a change of address. Pershad effectively became a “missing trader”, disappearing below the VAT radar. This meant he was unable legally to trade above the VAT threshold, which was between £54,000 in 2001 and £67,000 in 2008. However, his Self Assessment tax returns showed his income had increased from £85,000 in 2001 to £346,000 in 2008, breaching the VAT registration limit by £279,000. During this period he continued to use his invalid VAT number on invoices, meaning he was collecting the VAT on his fees but pocketing the money for himself rather than paying it to the public purse.

Donald Toon, HMRC Director of Criminal Investigation, 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 and he will spend the next three and half years behind bars.”

When interviewed, Pershad wrongly assumed he could just get away with paying the VAT due and that no further action would be taken. He was found guilty on 11 February 2013 at Blackfriars Crown Court, London.

Confiscation proceedings are underway.

Notes for editors

1. Rohan Pershad, DOB 17/01/1969, of London, was convicted of one count of cheating the public revenue at Blackfriars Crown Court.

2. Pershad was self-employed during the period of the fraud, working out of 39 Essex Street Chambers, London.

3. HMRC currently has a legal profession taskforce operating in London. Taskforces target specific trade sectors, professions and locations where there is evidence of a high risk of tax evasion. Since May 2011, HMRC has launched over 30 taskforces across the country and is on target to collect £50 million from the first 12.

4. Follow HMRC on Twitter - @hmrcgovuk

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.