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Barrister jailed for 3½ years for £600,000 VAT fraud

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A barrister convicted of fraud earlier this month for failing to pay more than £600,000 in VAT has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

Rohan Pershad, aged 44, who practised in London, spent the money on two luxury homes and private school fees for his children, HMRC said. No VAT was paid between June 1999 and September 2011.

The Times reported today that Judge Aidan Marron QC told Pershad at Blackfriars Crown Court: ‘It saddens me to pass this sentence, as I’m sure it will sadden many members of the public to hear that you, a successful and otherwise compassionate man, should have sunk to these levels.’ Mukul Chawla, QC, for the defence, told the court that Pershad was ‘of good character, having contributed generously to charities and other good causes’.

The jury rejected Pershad’s defence that he thought VAT was being paid by his Chambers. As Tax Journal reported last week, a statement from 39 Essex Street Chambers said: ‘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.’

The Lawyer reported today that, in a statement released through his solicitor, Pershad 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.’