Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Former BHS boss convicted for failing to turn information over to regulator

Former BHS boss convicted for failing to turn information over to regulator

Dominic Chappell, the majority shareholder of Retail Acquisitions, the organisation that bought BHS for £1, has been found guilty of failing to provide information to The Pensions Regulator (TPR) during the sale of the British retail organisation.

During the four day trial at Brighton Magistrates Court, the prosecutor described how the case centred on official requests for information both before and after BHS collapsed.

In a separate action, TPR is pursuing Chappell, of Clenston Manor, near Blandford Forum in Dorset, for a contribution - understood to be in the millions - to the BHS pension schemes.

Days later The Pensions Regulator demanded hundreds of documents from him in relation to the firm's £571million pension black hole.

The thrice-bankrupt Chappell, said he would lodge an appeal.

In the first case of its kind, the pensions regulator proved that Chappell had failed to provide documents that would have laid bare the full scale of the crisis facing BHS.

This included information about those involved in the deal as well as transactions involving BHS and Retail Acquisitions after the sale was completed.

Philip Green
Retail Acquisitions bought BHS for £1 from billionaire Sir Philip Green in 2015

The regulator, which has a responsibility to safeguard pensions, was seeking to protect the pensions of 19,000 members.

He added: "We feel that this case has not been treated fairly and we will look deeply into this". Sir Philip later agreed to pay £363 million towards it. "This conviction shows the courts recognise its importance and that anyone who fails to co-operate with our information notices risks getting a criminal record".

As well as causing some sniggers in court over the complained-of "heavy cough", there was more laughter when it was pointed out to Chappell that he had got his own age wrong, being 51 and not 50 as he had told the court.

He had a meeting with the regulator during the takeover process where he told them the pension scheme was the "albatross hanging over the head of the company", the court heard.

He now faces an unlimited fine.

"We were the ping-pong ball between the regulator and Sir Philip Green", said Mr Chappell.

The judge has adjourned to a later date, 19 January in Winchester, to consider the financial aspects. "TPR's determinations panel is considering evidence submitted by various parties and is expected to be in a position to issue its written determination notice to affected parties in the coming weeks", the regulator's spokeswoman said.

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