As a high-flying London barrister starts a three-and-a-half year sentence for evading VAT over a twelve year period, investigative accountants must start the lengthy process of finding the cash he withheld from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Rohan Pershad was deregistered for VAT in 2000 following a history of failure to submit tax returns and to tell the taxman about a change of address. This meant that he was unable to trade legally over the VAT threshold, which was £54,000 at the time and rose to £67,000 in 2008.
However, his self-assessment tax return in 2001 showed that his income had increased from £85,000 in 2001 to £346,000 in 2008, meaning that he was breaching the VAT registration limit by £279,000.
HMRC argued in court that Pershad was using his invalid VAT number on fee notes to charge VAT but then pocketing the money rather than paying it to HMRC.
Investigative accountants employed by HMRC will now begin to trace the cash, as confiscation proceedings are now underway, which means that money can be legally recovered under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA).
There is huge political pressure to maximise confiscations under POCA, so the accountants will scrutinise every aspect of Pershad’s life, from bank accounts to lifestyle.
Since HMRC says that Pershad spent the money he made on two homes in Surrey and Somerset and on school fees for his children, the accountants will investigate these claims first but may well unearth other money trails.
As an accountant; Roger Isaacs specialises within forensic accounting.