A barrister who failed to pay more than £600,000 in value added tax (VAT) that he instead spent on luxury homes has been convicted for tax fraud.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators found that Rohan Pershad, 44, of London had failed to declare or pay £627,839 of VAT for 12 years.
Pershad, who practices in London, instead spent the cash on two luxury homes in Surrey and Somerset, and private school fees for his children.
Pershad was deregistered for VAT by HMRC in February 2000 following a history of failure to submit tax returns and to tell HMRC about a change of address.
This 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 this 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 to the public purse.
After his VAT deregistration, the then-HM Customs and Excise cancelled his VAT registration altogether from August 1999, after Pershad became a "missing trader", disappearing below the VAT radar.
However, he continued to ignore his VAT responsibilities, resulting in no VAT being paid from June 1999 to September 2011.
Donald Toon, director, criminal investigation at HMRC, 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."
When interviewed, Pershad wrongly assumed he could just get away with paying the VAT due and that no further action would be taken.
Confiscation proceedings are underway.
HMRC currently has a legal profession taskforce operating in London.
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