A leading barrister was convicted of tax fraud on Monday, in a high profile case that coincides with a push by the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute more tax evaders.

Rohan Pershad, a Queen’s Counsel, was convicted of one count of cheating the public revenue at Blackfriars Crown Court, after an investigation into his failure to declare or pay VAT over 12 years.

HM Revenue & Customs which described the case as “blatant theft from the public purse” said confiscation proceedings were under way.

The CPS said Mr Pershad’s failure to pay VAT over 12 years, despite charging VAT to his clients, meant he retained an additional private income of £624,579, which should have been paid to the tax authorities.

Keri Ashworth-Beaumont, Specialist Prosecutor from the CPS Central Fraud Division, said: “By convicting him today, the jury has concluded that Pershad was acting dishonestly and his failure to pay was not simply an error or mistake. He claimed that his chambers had given the impression that payment of his VAT had been taken care of, but the jury clearly rejected that assertion.”

HMRC said Mr Pershad was deregistered for VAT in February 2000 following a history of failure to submit tax returns and inform the tax authority 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.

During this period he continued to use his invalid VAT number on invoices, meaning he was collecting VAT on his fees but failing to pay it to the Exchequer.

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