A London barrister jailed for failing to pay tax has been disbarred following a disciplinary hearing today.
Edward Paul Agbaje, 61, a criminal practitioner who worked from 1 Gray’s Inn Square, was found to have engaged in dishonest conduct by a five-person disciplinary panel chaired by former deputy circuit judge Stuart Sleeman. Agbaje cheated the public revenue out of £77,265 in income and VAT between September 2004 and March 2012.
Agbaje charged clients VAT and failed to pass it on. Following an inspection by HM Revenue & Customs, he was convicted at the Old Bailey in March of two counts of cheating the public revenue and sentenced to 15 months in prison.
Agbaje, who had been declared bankrupt twice, in 1999 and 2008, claimed in court to have spent the money gambling.
Agbaje admitted the charge of professional misconduct. Defence counsel, Anesta Weekes QC, told the tribunal panel that Agbaje had always intended to pay HMRC, but that he had ‘put his head in the sand’ after not submitting his accounts for a number of years.
Head of professional conduct at the Bar Standards Board, Sara Jagger, said: ‘Respect for the law should be in every barrister’s DNA.
‘Mr Agbaje has been convicted of a very serious crime. In doing so he has brought the profession into disrepute. No member of the public could be expected ever to have confidence in him as a barrister after this. The panel has made the right decision.’
The tribunal heard that the outstanding monies have still not been paid.