Two men have been ordered to pay back their share of £35million for their part in an attempted £176 million VAT fraud.

Dilawar Ravjani, of Uxbridge Road, Stanmore, and Rajesh Gathani, of Lime Tree Court, Pinner, were part of gang which claimed to have sold more than four million mobile phones worth around £1.7 billion.

They were caught after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs which found many of the phones did not exist, including 250,000 handsets which had not even been released in the UK.

Ravjani was jailed for 17 years for his part in a leading a 15-strong criminal gang in 2011 and has now been ordered to repay more than £30million or face a further ten years in prison.

Gathani was also sentenced to eight years in 2011 and has been ordered to repay £56,084 within three months or serve a further 18 months behind bars.

Assistant director at HMRC, Robert Alder said: “This major investigation uncovered the severe abuse of our tax system by a ruthless criminal gang who made a huge profit from the fraud.

“They have already lost their freedom and now their illegal wealth will be taken away as well.

“These confiscation orders will rid these criminals of all their illicit gains so they can be reclaimed for public finances.”