A solicitor convicted on two counts of tax evasion has failed to convince a tribunal to let him remain in the profession.
Azhar Islam Khan, a criminal defence specialist admitted 17 years ago, argued unsuccessfully for a suspension instead of strike-off following his conviction at Harrow Crown Court in January 2017.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal said Khan’s misconduct was at the ‘highest level’, and that public protection and reputation of the profession required him to be struck off.
The tribunal heard Khan had been the principal and owner of City Law Solicitors, based in north-west London, for 11 years until its closure in October 2016. In sentencing, His Honour Judge Anderson said Khan, who was also convicted of cheating the public revenue, was prone to ‘quite deliberate and wrongful instances where [he] recorded personal expenditure as business payments’. It was quite clear, the judge said, that the solicitor knew full well he had responsibility for accounting for rents received from his properties.
It has previously been reported that Khan deprived HM Revenue & Customs of £60,000 by failing to declare the shareholder dividend income from his business and rental income from properties in Blackburn and Preston.
Before the tribunal, Khan complained of ‘constant pursuit’ by the police since 2009, claiming this had been an attempt to put him out of business and obtain convictions against him. This had resulted in unsuccessful prosecutions for perverting the course of justice and mortgage fraud.
He claimed to have provided documents to the SRA which were then served by the police, and submitted this was evidence of collusion between them.
He argued that at no stage had he acted without integrity and that public knowledge of his conviction did not bring the profession into disrepute. He did not dispute the fact of his conviction but said that conviction was unsafe, and he requested the chance to return to the profession at some time in the future.
The tribunal considered his culpability was high, his motivation was personal gain and his conduct was planned. There were no exceptional circumstances.
Khan was struck off the roll and ordered to pay £5,000 costs.