Dominic Chappell fined for failing to provide Pensions Regulator with information on BHS schemes
Dominic Chappell, whose company bought BHS for £1 in March 2015, has been fined £50,000 at Barkingside Magistrates’ Court over his repeated failure to provide information about BHS’s two pension schemes in the wake of the company’s collapse.
Chappell was convicted in January of three counts of failing to comply with statutory information-gathering notices issued by The Pensions Regulator. The Regulator sought information relating to the company’s two defined benefit schemes, estimated to have had a combined deficit of around £571m and approximately 19,000 members.
This is the first conviction the Regulator has secured using its powers under section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004 in circumstances in which the defendant pled not guilty. Chappell has been fined £15,000 in respect of each of the first and second ‘section 72’ notices, and £20,000 in respect of the third. He has also been ordered to pay court costs of £37,430.84 and a victim surcharge of £170.
Chappell’s defence team is expected to appeal against the conviction. In the course of the sentencing hearing, Chappell also indicated that he intends to pursue legal action against Sir Phillip Green.
The Regulator also continues to pursue its anti-avoidance case against Chappell, and served him with a £10m contribution notice the day after his conviction: it remains unpaid. Sir Philip Green has already agreed a deal with the Regulator to pay £363m towards the BHS schemes’ deficit.
The Regulator has also prosecuted a number of other individuals in cases involving the withholding of information. Given the recent high-profile public hearings in which Parliamentary committees scrutinised the Regulator’s involvement in the BHS and Carillion cases, we expect the Regulator to continue taking a more proactive role in schemes in relation to which it has concerns regarding the circumstances of sponsoring employers.