The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has published a determination notice detailing its decision to issue contribution notices for £9.5m (€11m) against Dominic Chappell regarding two pension schemes connected to the collapsed high street chain BHS.
The issuing of the two contribution notices marks the end of TPR’s anti-avoidance enforcement against Chappell, which started in 2016.
Retail Acquisitions Limited, of which he was a majority shareholder, bought BHS for the nominal sum of £1 in 2015 and the retailer fell into administration a year later.
According to the information released by the regulator this week, the Determinations Panel decided that a series of acts were materially detrimental to the pension schemes, which included the acquisition of BHS, management decisions of the company, the appointment of inexperienced board members, the implementation of an inadequate business plan and the way money was extracted and distributed to Chappell, advisers, company directors and family members.
In January 2018, the panel ruled that two contribution notices for a total of £9.5m be issued against Chappell. He appealed the decision but following a lengthy legal process his referral was struck out by the upper tribunal. The contribution notices against him were subsequently issued in August 2019.
Nicola Parish, TPR’s executive director of frontline regulation, said: “We are pleased that the decision to issue two contribution notices to pay money into the BHS pension schemes stands.
“This case illustrates how TPR is willing to pursue a case through the courts to seek redress for pension savers. It illustrates the situations our anti-avoidance powers were designed to meet and which allow us to protect the retirement incomes that savers deserve.”
The Pension Protection Fund is responsible for obtaining the money from Chappell for the benefit of the pension schemes.
Sir Philip Green, whose retail group sold BHS to Chappell in 2015, reached a settlement with TPR in 2017 to pay £363m to the BHS pension schemes.