QC jailed after £600,000 VAT fraud

by Calum Fuller

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12 Feb 2013

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A BARRISTER faces a jail term after the taxman found he failed to pay more than £600,000 over a 12-year period.

Rohan Pershad used the money to buy two homes in Surrey and Somerset and put his children through private school.

When interviewed by authorities, he said had wrongly assumed he could get away with not paying and no further action would be taken.

He charged and received VAT payments in the course of his work as a barrister, but failed to declare or pass on the money between June 1999 and September 2011, despite having been de-registered for VAT by HMRC in February 2000 following a history of failure to submit tax returns and to tell the department about any change of address.

His activities 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 that 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 into the public purse.

HMRC criminal investigation director Donald Toon 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."

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