TPR to Prosecute Chappell for Failing to Give BHS Sale Info

BHS owner to face charges of neglecting or refusing to provide information.

The Pensions Regulator (TPR), which regulates work-based pensions in the UK, said it is prosecuting Dominic Chappell for failing to provide information and documents it requested during its investigation into the sale of BHS.  Chappell was the director and majority shareholder of Retail Acquisitions Ltd. at the time the company purchased BHS for £1 in 2015 from billionaire Sir Philip Green.

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

TPR said it is prosecuting Chappell for failing to comply with three notices issued under Section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004. The notices requiring information were sent to Chappell in April and May of 2016, and February of 2017.

Section 72 gives TPR the power to require pension plans, employers, and third parties to provide the regulator with information and documents relevant to its functions. According to TPR, failure to provide such information without a reasonable excuse is a criminal offense , which can result in an unlimited fine. Additionally, it said those involved can suffer serious reputational damage from being convicted of non-compliance with the law. Businesses could also face further action from their professional body.

While TPR continues its investigation, the Insolvency Service, the UK government department that scrutinizes bankrupt companies, is also investigating Chappell. The Insolvency Service can ban anyone from being a company director in the UK.

“The Insolvency Service is aware of The Pension Regulator’s action against Mr. Chappell,” the Insolvency Service said in a statement. “Our investigation into BHS is ongoing, and we will continue to work closely with other interested regulators.”

In March,  TPR secured a cash settlement worth up to £363 million ($446 million) from Green.

“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?” Frank Field, who chairs the UK’s Parliamentary Work and Pensions Committee, told the BBC. “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.”

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