The director and majority shareholder of the company that bought BHS for £1 has been ordered to pay more than £87,000 for 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.
He also failed to provide TPR with information about a possible unauthorised disclosure of restricted material.
Chappell had pleaded not guilty to three charges of neglecting or refusing to provide information and documents without a reasonable excuse, but was convicted of all the charges after a trial in January.
At Barkingside Magistrates’ Court today (Friday 23 February) District Judge Gary Lucie ordered Chappell to pay a £50,000 fine, £37,000 costs and a £170 victim surcharge.
Judge Lucie said: “The court must send a message to those in senior positions that refusal to answer questions under section 72 will not be tolerated. The law is there for a purpose and it must be enforced. There is a complete lack of remorse on Mr Chappell’s part.”
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 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.
“Information notices are a vital investigative tool for us. Ignoring them is a crime that can lead to prosecution.”
TPR’s separate anti-avoidance action against Mr Chappell in respect of the BHS pension schemes is continuing.
- 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. 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).