Former BHS owner Dominic Chappell has been told to pay £87,170 for breaching Section 72 notices under the 2004 Pensions Act, it has been revealed.
Chappell was convicted with a fine for £87,170 today, 23 February 2018, in Barkingside Magistrates’ Court for failing to respond to three Section 72 notices. 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.
Commenting, TPR executive director of frontline regulation Nicola Parish 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.”
In January this year Chappell was convicted for failing to hand over information to The Pensions Regulator regarding the sale of the collapsed retailer.
Chappell, who purchased BHS from Arcadia boss Phillip Green for £1 in 2015, was found guilty of three charges of “neglecting and refusing to provide information and documents without reasonable excuse”, at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on 11 January 2018. Chappell pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In August 2017, TPR opened a prosecution against Chappell for his failure to comply with three notices issued under Section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004. The notices requesting information on BHS were issued by the regulator on 26 April 2016, 13 May 2016 and 20 February 2017.
The conviction was an important win for the regulator after it made efforts to become a “clearer, quicker and tougher” organisation in 2017, and marks the fifth conviction against individuals of organisations failing to comply with Section 72 Notices.
Furthermore, in February the previous BHS owner Sir Philip Green agreed a £363m cash settlement with The Pensions Regulator for the company’s pension scheme.
With this, Green assisted in the provision of funding for a new independent pension scheme to give pensioners the option of the same starting pension as they were originally promised by BHS, and higher benefits than they would get from the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).
TPR chief executive Lesley Titcomb said: “The agreement we have reached with Sir Philip Green represents a strong outcome for the members of the BHS pension schemes. It takes account of the interests of both pensioners and the PPF, and brings a welcome level of certainty to present and future pensioners.
“Throughout our discussions with Sir Philip and his team, we have always been clear that we were determined to achieve the right outcome for members of the schemes both in terms of the amount and the structure of the settlement.”
TPR’s separate anti-avoidance action against Mr Chappell in respect of the BHS pension schemes is continuing.
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