Former BHS owner found guilty of 3 charges

Ex-BHS owner Dominic Chappell accuses regulator of 'hostile' act

Former BHS owner found guilty of 3 charges

The former owner of now defunct British retailer BHS has been found guilty of failing to provide vital documents to the pensions regulator, the Guardian newspaper reported Thursday.

And it charged Chappell with neglecting or refusing to respond to three notices demanding he hand over vital documents and information relating to the purchase of BHS.

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. BHS subsequently crashed 13 months later, with 11,000 jobs lost and a pensions black hole of about GBP571 million.

Speaking outside court, Mr Chappell said he would appeal against the verdict.

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Nicola Parish, executive director of frontline regulation at TPR, 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".

Days later The Pensions Regulator demanded hundreds of documents from him in relation to the firm's £571million pension black hole. "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". It made a second request in May 2016 and a further approach in February 2017.

The schemes had 19,000 members and a shortfall of £571m when BHS collapsed.

During the trial, Chappell had attempted to portray himself as a man more sinned against than sinning, claiming that he had wanted to cooperate with the regulator, but that his efforts had been curtailed by a number of factors.

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"The defendant can alter his travel arrangements", Ashworth said.

The Pensions Regulator is said to be seeking £10m from Mr Chappell to shore up BHS's stricken pension fund, to add to the £363m already obtained from Sir Philip.

As well as causing some sniggers in court over the complained-of "heavy cough", there was more laughter when it was pointed out to Chappell that he had got his own age wrong, being 51 and not 50 as he had told the court.

A spokesman for the regulator said: "Our separate anti-avoidance action against Dominic Chappell continues".

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The case has been adjourned to 19 January, when sentencing will occur at Winchester Crown Court. "TPR's determinations panel is considering evidence submitted by various parties and is expected to be in a position to issue its written determination notice to affected parties in the coming weeks", the regulator's spokeswoman said.

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