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A London silk sentenced today to three and a half years in prison after being convicted of a £600,000 VAT fraud says he will fight to clear his name. Rohan Anthony Pershad, who practised from Thirty Nine Essex Street, was convicted at Blackfriars Crown Court earlier this month of one count of cheating the public revenue of £624,579, between 1 June 1999 and 24 September 2011. A statement from HM Revenue & Customs said that instead of paying the VAT due, Pershad spent the money on two homes in Surrey and Somerset and on school fees for his children. HMRC said that it cancelled Pershad’s VAT registration in 2003 with effect from 1999, after his repeated failures to submit tax returns or tell the authorities about a change of address. The statement said: ‘Pershad effectively became a missing trader, disappearing below the VAT radar. This meant he was unable legally to trade above the VAT threshold, which was between £54,000 in 2001 and £67,000 in 2008. However, his self-assessment tax returns showed his income had increased from £85,000 in 2001 to £346,000 in 2008, breaching the VAT registration limit by £279,000.’ During this period, the Revenue said Pershad continued to use his invalid VAT number on invoices, meaning he was collecting the VAT on fees but pocketing the money for himself. HMRC’s director of criminal investigation Donald Toon, said: ‘Pershad’s 12-year history of tax evasion was blatant theft from the public purse. He thought he was above the law, but someone in his profession should have known better than to try to cheat the system, as HMRC will not stand by while criminals try to cheat the taxpayer.’ Confiscation proceedings are underway. Following notice of his prosecution, Pershad voluntarily suspended his membership of chambers. A spokeswoman for the Bar Standards Board said that it had raised a complaint about Pershad and the case will be referred to a five-person disciplinary tribunal, which has the power to disbar him. Pershad’s solicitor, Angus McBride at London firm London firm Kingsley Napley, said Pershad will appeal both the conviction and sentence. In a statement via his solicitor, Pershad said he believed the conviction to be unsafe. He said: ‘I have not acted dishonestly in relation to the payment of VAT and I will be seeking to have my conviction overturned in the Court of Appeal.’ He said: ‘There have been a number of inaccurate and misleading comments made publicly since my conviction. I will seek to correct them at the appropriate time. ‘I am very grateful to all the many people that have stood by me at what has been a deeply distressing time – most of all for my family.’ Pershad added: ‘I am not a dishonest man. I have never sought to defraud or cheat anyone. I will fight to clear my name.’