London

Rohan Pershad QC VAT trial: Barrister 'poor at paperwork'

A London barrister accused of deliberately failing to pay £600,000 in VAT has told a court he was "extremely poor at paperwork".

Rohan Pershad QC, 44, denies cheating the public revenue to pocket the cash over a 12-year period.

He said he was not motivated by money and that he believed his legal chambers paid his VAT.

Blackfriars Crown Court heard Mr Pershad stopped paying the tax for himself in 1999.

The court was told how most barristers are self-employed and legally required to pay the tax for themselves.

Mr Pershad is charged with one count of cheating the public revenue for allegedly failing to pay VAT between June 1999 and September 2011.

Mr Pershad denies the allegation.

The barrister claimed he was told 39 Essex Street, the chambers where he worked in central London, would take care of the payments for him soon after they offered him a job.

He also learned that he would have to pay higher fees than before at the same time, the court heard.

'Poor at paperwork'

"It sort of explained a couple of things for me," he said. "I was a bit naive about why they were charging more, because it was an awful lot more.

"It made sense. It was the next step up from the service I had been given."

Mr Pershad, who specialised in financial disputes, professional negligence, personal injury, professional liability and insurance cases, told the court he did not pay much attention to his finances and was "extremely poor at paperwork".

"I wasn't that interested in how much I was being paid," he said. "I loved what I was doing.

"I don't have a pension, I never did. I don't have stocks and shares, I never have. I didn't see myself as running a business. I was a barrister."

The court has heard how Mr Pershad's online CV depicts a lawyer with a "particular expertise in fraud cases".

Prosecutors claim he would have been well aware of his legal responsibilities but that he deliberately failed to pay his VAT, using the money to buy a property in Somerset for £490,000 and another in Virginia Water, Surrey, for £1,105,000.

The trial continues.

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