BSB probe could see VAT fraud barrister struck off

Convicted barrister Rohan Pershad QC could be struck off after the Bar Standards Board confirmed it is referring his case to a disciplinary tribunal.

Rohan Pershad QC
Rohan Pershad QC

The former 39 Essex Street and Crown Office Row silk is facing prison after being found guilty of a £600,000 VAT fraud while practising as a barrister over 12 years.

He has been bailed for two weeks to put his affairs in order before sentencing on 26 February (11 February 2013).

A spokesman said: “The Bar Standards Board have raised a complaint against Rohan Pershad QC with a view to referring it to a five-person disciplinary tribunal, following an investigation which has the power to disbar.

“Rohan Pershad QC has agreed to give an undertaking not to practise until the conclusion of our disciplinary hearing.”

Following the prosecution, HMRC stated that Pershad used an invalid VAT number on his invoices when collecting VAT on his fees.

HMRC also stated that during interview, Pershad “wrongly assumed he could just get away with paying the VAT due and that no further action would be taken” – suggesting he offered to repay the amount back to the taxman.

Authorities have also confirmed that confiscation proceedings are ongoing under the Proceeds of Crime Act, where HMRC can seek to recover the outstanding amount from Pershad. Its powers include being able to seize his assets and sell property in order to realise the £600,000 owed.

Meanwhile, Criminal barrister Edward Agbaje, formerly of 1 Gray’s Inn Square, has been charged with an £81,000 VAT fraud and is facing trial in March (18 September 2012).

He denies the allegation and is being represented by 5 Paper Buildings’ Graham Trembath QC.