The majority shareholder of the company that bought BHS for £1 has been convicted of failing to hand over information to The Pensions Regulator (TPR).
Dominic Chappell failed to provide information that TPR had required him to supply as part of its investigation into the sale and then collapse of BHS, using powers under section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004.
This included information about the purchase of BHS by Retail Acquisitions Limited and the participants involved, as well as transactions involving BHS and Retail Acquisitions Limited after the sale had been completed.
Mr Chappell also failed to provide TPR with information about a possible unauthorised disclosure of restricted material.
At Brighton Magistrates’ Court today (Thursday 11 January) Mr Chappell was found guilty of three charges of neglecting or refusing to provide information and documents, without a reasonable excuse. Mr Chappell had denied the charges.
District Judge William Ashworth adjourned the case until 19 January, when Mr Chappell will be sentenced at Winchester Crown Court.
The case is the fifth criminal conviction secured by TPR against individuals or organisations for failing to comply with section 72 notices.
Nicola Parish, TPR’s Executive Director of Frontline Regulation, 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.
“Dominic 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.
“The power to demand specific information is a key investigative tool in our work to protect people’s pensions. 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.”
TPR’s separate anti-avoidance action against Mr Chappell in respect of the BHS pension schemes is continuing.
Note: The sentencing hearing has been rearranged for 2pm on 23 February at Barkingside Magistrates’ Court in London. The hearing due to be held on Friday 19 January will not take place.
- TPR has the power under section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004 to require recipients of a section 72 notice to provide us with information and documents relevant to our statutory functions.
- Failure to provide such information, without a reasonable excuse, is a criminal offence which can result in an unlimited fine if dealt with in a magistrates’ court. Additionally, those involved can suffer serious reputational damage from being successfully prosecuted for non-compliance with the law.
- TPR is the regulator of work-based pension schemes in the UK. Our statutory objectives are: to protect members’ benefits; to reduce the risk of calls on the Pension Protection Fund (PPF); to promote, and to improve understanding of, the good administration of work-based pension schemes; to maximise employer compliance with automatic enrolment duties; and to minimise any adverse impact on the sustainable growth of an employer (in relation to the exercise of TPR’s functions under Part 3 of the Pensions Act 2004 only).