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39 Essex Street QC guilty of £600k tax dodge
15 February 2013
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A London barrister has been convicted of tax fraud for pocketing over £600k of VAT. A jury took ten hours to find Rohan Pershad QC guilty of cheating the public purse by a majority of eleven to one.

Pershad stopped paying tax when he left his old chambers in 1999, and vanished off HMRC's radar. But the QC had actually just moved to 39 Essex Street, where he continued to charge clients VAT, without declaring it, for the next 12 years. Meanwhile his salary leapt from £85,000 in 2001 to £346,000 in 2008 and by the time he was caught he'd trousered £624,579 of the taxman's money.
    Rohan Pershad contemplating a rather large refund yesterday

During his trial Pershad claimed that he thought his chambers, 39 Essex Street, was responsible for paying his VAT out of its 22-26% cut of his fees. In assertions that somewhat contradict his standing as a financial fraud specialist, Pershad said he was "extremely poor at paperwork" and "not interested" in the money. But in an episode of This Is Your Life no-one wants to experience, Pershad watched as a string of colleagues, including the chief exec of 39 Essex Street, appeared for the prosecution to confirm that Pershad was "financially astute" and talking rubbish.

39 Essex Street has now terminated Pershad's membership and he will be sentenced later this month. Meanwhile HMRC has commenced confiscation proceedings, which may see the QC waving goodbye to his £1.1 million home in Surrey and £490k Somerset getaway. Although as he's not interested in money he probably won't mind.

HMRC has vowed that Pershad is just the first high profile victim in its crackdown on tax evasion in the legal profession.


  

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