Ex-BHS boss probed by pensions watchdogs over sale of collapsed chain

The former owner of BHS is to be prosecuted by pensions watchdogs.

Dominic Chappell is accused of failing to provide key documents relating to his purchase of the high street chain from Sir Philip Green in 2015.

Chappell, a serial bankrupt, has been summoned to appear in court next month.

He could face unlimited fines if found guilty.

The businessman bought BHS from Green for £1 in March 2015. A year later, the retailer went into administration. Up to 11,000 people lost their jobs and a huge black hole was left in the firm’s pension scheme.

The Pensions Regulator claim Chappell ignored demands for information on three occasions.

They added: “We are to prosecute Dominic Chappell for failing to provide information and documents we requested during our investigation into the sale of BHS.”

In February this year, Green reached a settlement with the Pensions Regulator that will see him cough up £363million to plug the retirement fund shortfall.

The deal meant the watchdogs’ case against the billionaire was closed.

Speaking about the decision to prosecute Chappell, Labour MP Frank Field, who co-chaired a Commons investigation into the collapse of BHS, said: “If the Pensions Regulator are frightened of landing the whale, I suppose going after the sprat is the next best thing.

“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?

“I’ll be consulting the House of Commons’ lawyers on when I can begin to unlock that puzzle, so Mr Chappell has a fair trial.”

The regulator’s investigation into Chappell and his company Retail Acquisitions is ongoing.

Under Chappell’s ownership, £8.4million was taken out of the BHS by Retail Acquisitions, with £6million owed when the chain went under last year.

The Serious Fraud Office and the Insolvency Service are also carrying out investigations into the retailer’s collapse.

Chappell is set to appear before Brighton magistrates on September 20.

Keir Greenaway, GMB national officer, said: “It’s about time the Pensions Regulator realised they do have teeth and start using them to protect the interests of working people.”

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