Dominic Chappell has been convicted for failing to hand over information to The Pensions Regulator about the sale of BHS.
Chappell, who purchased BHS from Arcadia boss Phillip Green for £1 in 2015, was found guilty of three charges of “neglecting and refusing to provide information and documents without reasonable excuse”, at Brighton Magistrates’ Court , yesterday (Thursday 11 January 2017). Chappell pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The conviction is an important win for the regulator after it made efforts to become a “clearer, quicker and tougher” organisation in 2017, and marks the fifth conviction against individuals of organisations failing to comply with Section 72 Notices.
TPR’s executive director of frontline regulation, Nicola Parish, said: “We are satisfied with the outcome of this case, the latest in a series of successful prosecutions by TPR for offences of this kind.
“Dominic Chappell failed to provide us with information we had requested in connection with our investigation into the sale and ultimate collapse of BHS, despite numerous requests.
“The power to demand specific information is a key investigative tool in our work to protect people’s pensions. This conviction shows that the courts recognise its importance and that anyone who fails to co-operate with our information notices risks getting a criminal record.”
District Judge William Ashworth adjourned the case until 19 January, when Chappell will be sentenced in Winchester Crown Court.
In August 2017, TPR opened a prosecution against Chappell for his failure to comply with three notices issued under Section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004. The notices requesting information on BHS were issued by the regulator on 26 April 2016, 13 May 2016 and 20 February 2017.
Early in 2017, Chappell refused to pay as much as £17m that is understood to have been requested by TPR, claiming that the BHS pension scheme black hole was not his fault.
Following Chappell’s purchase of BHS, his company Retail Acquisitions received payments of up to £25m from the British chain until it collapsed 13 months later. An investigation into the store’s demise also claimed that Chappell had “his fingers in the till.”
TPR are pursuing a separate anti-avoidance actions against Chappell in respect to the BHS pension scheme.