Business World

Saturday 24 March 2018

Former BHS owner prosecuted by UK pensions watchdog

Dominic Chappell, the former bankrupt who bought department store chain BHS. Photo: PA
Dominic Chappell, the former bankrupt who bought department store chain BHS. Photo: PA
Topshop tycoon Philip Green. Photo: PA

Ashley Armstrong

Dominic Chappell, the former bankrupt who bought department store chain BHS for £1, is to be prosecuted by the UK's Pensions Regulator for failing to provide information related to his purchase of the now defunct retailer.

Mr Chappell has been summoned to appear at Brighton Magistrates Court on September 20 to face three charges of neglecting or refusing to provide information and documents without a reasonable excuse.

The Pensions Regulator is still pursuing Mr Chappell over the collapse of BHS, which left 20,000 BHS pensioners facing a pay cut and created 11,000 redundancies, after agreeing a £363m (€308m) deal with Philip Green to plug the retailer's deficit.

Mr Chappell has previously claimed that he is "working hard to recover and preserve nearly £50m for creditors and pensioners", but this sum appears to entirely rely on gaining money back from Mr Green.

Mr Chappell hopes that he will win a £14m case against the Topshop tycoon over the sale of BHS headquarters, the papers for which have not been filed yet, and that will waive his claims to a £35m floating charge.

Frank Field MP, who chaired the UK parliament's Work and Pensions Committee's investigation into the collapse of BHS, said: "If the Pensions Regulator is frightened of landing the whale, I suppose going after the sprat is the next best thing."

"Why was Sir Philip Green allowed to get away with an inadequate settlement, in which pensions have been cut, yet Dominic Chappell is going to be sued? I'll be consulting the House of Commons' lawyers on when I can begin to unlock that puzzle, so that Mr Chappell has a fair trial", Mr Field added.

In April Mr Chappell was threatened with court by the Insolvency Service for failing to co-operate with its inquiry into the retail chain's collapse.

At the time, friends of Mr Chappell said that the former racing driver could not provide the information required because his financial documents and computers were seized in a raid by HM Revenue and Customs last year.

Mr Chappell was arrested by tax officers in November last year amid claims that his investment vehicle, Swiss Rock, owed the Revenue more than £500,000 in unpaid corporation tax and Vat.

The former CEO is still being investigated by the Insolvency Service and the Serious Fraud Office has not ruled out launching a probe into his actions. The boss of the Insolvency Service, Sarah Albon, said in February that the investigation into BHS's collapse could stretch to 2019 and that it had so far received 37 million records relating to its investigation.

Mr Chappell owned BHS for just 13 months before its collapse in April 2016. It was previously owned by Mr Green between 2000 and 2015, becoming part of the Arcadia group in 2002. (Daily Telegraph)

Irish Independent

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