Ex-BHS owner Dominic Chappell fined £87,000

Dominic ChappellImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Dominic Chappell is accused of failing to provide information to the Pensions Regulator

The former boss of BHS will have to pay a £50,000 fine and £37,000 in costs for failing to provide information about the collapsed chain’s pension schemes.

Dominic Chappell was today sentenced after he was found guilty in January of charges of neglecting or refusing to provide information and documents.

Earlier Mr Chappell told the court he would need to take out a loan if he was forced to pay a fine.

BHS went bust in April 2016, leaving a £571m pensions deficit.

Self-described entrepreneur Mr Chappell claimed in the trial he did “everything and more” to help the Pensions Regulator (TPR).

At sentencing at Barkingside Magistrates Court, he told the judge the “great perception of me having millions from BHS” was not true and that he had been “financially crippled”.

“I’m in arrears on a number of bills at the moment – I can’t afford to pay,” he added.

Mr Chappell listed monthly expenses including £3,800 rent on his family home in Dorset and £2,800 in private school fees.

He told the court his income from consulting a small cosmetics company was not enough to cover even those expenses.

He also told the court of an outstanding £10m fine from the Pensions Regulator regarding a separate case on his conduct in the BHS saga.

District Judge Gary Lucie ordered Mr Chappell to pay the fine at a rate of £2,500 a month.

Judge Lucie said: “There’s been a complete lack of remorse on Mr Chappell’s part.”

During the trial, Judge Ashworth had dismissed Mr Chappell’s claim that he could not access the information due to being locked out of the company’s headquarters as “simply not believable”.

Mr Chappell, a former bankrupt, bought BHS from retail tycoon Sir Philip Green for £1 in March 2015 through his business Retail Acquisitions (RAL).

The chain collapsed into administration in 2016.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption BHS was sold to Dominic Chappell’s business in 2015, but by 2016 it had closed all stores

Nicola Parish, TPR’s executive director of frontline regulation, said: “We prosecuted Dominic Chappell because despite numerous requests he failed to provide us with information we required in connection with our investigation into the sale and ultimate collapse of BHS.

“Choosing not to comply with our Section 72 notices has now left him with a criminal record and a bill for more than £87,000, both of which he could have avoided if he had simply done what was required of him,” she said.

During the trial Alex Stein, the barrister representing the Pensions Regulator, told the court that at the time of the sale, BHS’s two pension schemes had 19,000 members and a combined deficit in the region of £500m.

Mr Stein said The Pensions Regulator wanted information about the purchase of BHS by RAL and the participants involved, as well as transactions involving BHS and RAL after the sale had been completed

Mr Chappell was asked to provide information to The Pensions Regulator (TPR) on two occasions in April and May 2016 and a third time in February 2017.

“Despite numerous reminders and assurances from the defendant and his advisers nothing has been received in relation to the (first) two notices,” he said at the trial.

The third request was in relation to an alleged leak of information from a confidential warning notice sent out in November 2016.

Mr Chappell received £2.5m in payments from the company in his year of ownership.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption BHS struggled to entice customers as competition from new retail chains intensified

The Pensions Regulator has already reached a deal with Sir Phillip Green to shore up the company’s pension scheme with an extra £360m.

However, the pension payments will still be lower than expected, and in January the regulator ruled that Mr Chappell should make a £9.5m pension contribution as well.

No Comments, Be The First!

Your email address will not be published.