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QC faces jail after pocketing VAT for 12 years
A London silk faces jail after being convicted of a £600,000 VAT fraud.
Rohan Anthony Pershad QC, who practised from Thirty Nine Essex Street, was convicted at Blackfriars Crown Court (pictured) today of one count of cheating the public revenue, between 1 June 1999 and 24 September 2011.
The jury had heard that Pershad had failed to pay VAT for 12 years, despite adding VAT to his bills. As a result, he retained an additional income of £624,579.
Pershad had claimed that his chambers had given the impression that payment of his VAT had been taken care of.
Specialist fraud prosecutor Keri Ashworth-Beaumont said: ‘By convicting him today, the jury has concluded that Pershad was acting dishonestly and his failure to pay was not simply an error or mistake.’
She said: ‘Pershad always admitted that he understood the law and the responsibility for meeting his obligations rested on him alone. The message is clear; paying tax is not an optional extra, in any area of working life and withholding tax dishonestly may lead to prosecution.’
Last month the director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer QC spoke about the importance of prosecuting tax evasion, which he said costs the British economy £14bn a year in lost revenue, equivalent to £769 for every family in the UK.
In 2010-11, the Crown Prosecution Service successfully prosecuted around 200 tax evasion cases. Starmer said he wants that figure to increase five-fold over the next five years to 2014/15.
Pershad will be sentenced later this month. He was remanded on conditional bail and told to expect a custodial sentence.
Thirty Nine Essex Street said in a statement: ‘It is and always has been clear that all members of these chambers, in common with all other self-employed barristers, are personally responsible to account to, and pay, HMRC for VAT received, and for income tax, and it is right that tax evasion should be appropriately punished when proved.
‘On notice of his prosecution, Rohan agreed to the voluntary suspension of his membership of chambers pending the outcome of the trial, and given the circumstances he will no longer be a member.’
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