Joel Muckett 12 Jan 2018 02:31pm

Former BHS boss guilty of failing to disclose information

Former BHS owner Dominic Chappell has been found guilty of three charges of neglecting or refusing to provide information to the Pensions Regulator (TPR)

The watchdog accused Chappell of failing to respond to the three section 72 notices, which demanded him to supply information related to its investigation into the sale and collapse of the former department store chain.

Chappell denied the charges, but was found guilty of all three charges at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

According to BBC News, he argued that he could not access the information available due to being shut out of his office after administrators took over at BHS. He also said tax officers removed computers and files during a raid of his home.

District judge William Ashworth said Chappell and the evidence offered was not credible, and added that his explanation made no sense.

Nicola Parish, TPR’s executive director of frontline regulation, said the regulator was satisfied with the outcome of the case – its fifth criminal conviction against individuals or organisations failing to comply with section 72 notices.

“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,” said Parish.

“The power to demand specific information is a key investigative tool in our work to protect people’s pensions. 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.”

In 2015, Arcadia chairman Sir Philip Green sold BHS to Chappell’s Retail Acquisitions Limited despite Chappell being declared bankrupt twice before and having a lack of experience in the retail industry.

The retailer entered administration the following year and all of its stores closed in 2016, resulting in the loss of 11,000 jobs and a £571m pensions deficit.

During a parliamentary report into the collapse of BHS, MPs described the ownership of Chappell and Retail Acquisitions as “incompetent and self serving”, adding that the fate of the struggling retailer was decided on the day it was sold.

District judge William Ashworth adjourned the case until 19 January, when Chappell will be sentenced at Winchester Crown Court.

Each of the charges Chappell has been found guilty of carries an unlimited fine. A separate anti-avoidance action from TPR against him is continuing.