A criminal defence solicitor who used his law firm’s accounts to lie about his income to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and steal more than £60,000 in a tax fraud, has been jailed for 18 months.
Azhar Islam Khan, 45, of Pinner, Greater London, failed to declare the shareholder dividend income from his business and the rental income he received from two properties in Blackburn and Preston on his tax returns.
HMRC’s investigation revealed that Mr Khan withdrew money from his law firm but lied in his accounts, recording the transactions as ‘professional fees’.
Investigators also discovered that he paid for a new kitchen and bathroom for his home from the firm bank account, recorded as business expenses.
Mr Khan, who chose not to give any evidence at his four week trial, was found guilty of income tax evasion and cheating the public revenue on 31 January 2017. He was jailed for 18 months at Harrow Crown Court on 24 February 2017 and suspended from holding company directorships for four years.
HMRC has started the process to recover his criminal proceeds.
A spokesman for the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) said: “Now that the criminal case has concluded, we will collate all necessary information and decide on an appropriate course of action.”
Mr Khan practised at City Law Solicitors, right by Wembley Stadium (not to be confused with other firms of the same name), and his 2016/17 practising certificate was subject to multiple conditions, including that he should not appear as advocate in any criminal proceedings, in all cases where he had sole conduct of a matter, he must disclose to all clients and counsel the charges that he faced, and that we should not act as any firm’s money laundering reporting officer.
Last week, the SRA noted that “there have been numerous reports in the media of solicitors falling foul of the law, and either being charged or convicted of crimes”. Recent offences have included sexual assault, stalking and fraud.
It reminded solicitors that there were clear rules covering what the regulator expects a solicitor to do in such instances: should a solicitor be arrested over or charged with an indictable offence, then they should inform the SRA within seven days if he or she is committed to prison in civil or criminal proceedings, or is charged with or convicted of an indictable offence.
Meanwhile, last week, barrister Omar Khan was disbarred following his conviction for conspiring to supply cocaine, a class A drug. He was convicted in March 2016 at Nottingham Crown Court and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.
Separately, barrister Sanjay Roy was disbarred after a conviction for putting a person in fear of violence by harassment. He received an 18-month suspended sentence in July 2016.