TWO south Essex men have been named in a list of the UK’s top tax cheats as part of a campaign to drive down tax evasion.

A four-man gang, including Kevin Burrage, 49 of Ravendale Way, Shoebury, and his brother-in-law Gary Clarke, 55, of Maplin Way North, Thorpe Bay, were jailed last year for their part in one of the biggest ever alcohol smuggling frauds in the UK.

They have been named by HM Revenue and Customs, along with 30 others, after the Government invested £917million to tackle tax evasion and fraud in 2011/12.

In total the 32 top tax criminals in 2012 were sentenced to more than 150 years behind bars.

Gang ringleader Burrage led the scam, which was worth £50million a year in unpaid duty and VAT.

The cash allowed the four men to spend out on high performance cars, including Bentleys and Range Rovers, and luxury properties throughout Europe.

Burrage owned Promptstock Ltd, a bonded warehouse in Essex, which Clarke managed, and the gang used it to import and export alcohol without paying a penny in tax.

Accomplice Michael Turner, 53, from Folkestone, Kent, owned Keytrades (Europe) Ltd and provided a seemingly legitimate cover for movements of the alcohol.

While Davinder Singh Dhaliwal, 33, from Dartford, Kent, operated as Burrage’s right hand man, organising the delivery of large quantities of alcohol ready for distribution.

The gang bought branded beer, wine and spirits from warehouses in France and imported it duty free into the country.

They were eventually snared through an undercover HMRC operation and arrested in a series of dawn raids in November 2008.

Martin Brown, assistant director of criminal investigation for HM Revenue and Customs said: “This gang was interested in nothing further than lining their own pockets at the expense of honest taxpayers.

“HMRC will not stand by and let criminals rip off law-abiding public.”

Burrage was found guilty of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and sentenced to ten years in prison. He was also disqualified from being a company director for 12 years.

Clarke was found guilty of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and sentenced to six years, nine months imprisonment.

Turner was sentenced to three years, two months behind bars, and Dhaliwal was handed a 16 month sentence.