A QC has been sentenced to three-and-a-half-years after being found guilty of failing to pay more than £600,000 in VAT 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.
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.
Yet 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.
Following the sentencing, Pershad vowed to fight his conviction, insisting he is “not a dishonest man”.
In a statement, he said: “I will be appealing my conviction which I believe is wrong and unsafe. I have not acted dishonestly in relation to the payment of VAT and I will be seeking to have my conviction overturned in the Court of Appeal.
“There have been a number of inaccurate and misleading comments made publicly since my conviction. I will seek to correct them at the appropriate time.
“I am very grateful to all the many people that have stood by me at what has been a deeply distressing time – most of all for my family.
“I am not a dishonest man. I have never sought to defraud or cheat anyone. I will continue to fight to clear my name.”
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Let us hope that valuable asset protection vehicles are not made prohibitively burdensome or abolished in the desire to “simplify” IHT