Defined Benefit  

Regulator pursues Sir Philip Green over BHS pensions

Regulator pursues Sir Philip Green over BHS pensions

The Pensions Regulator has launched enforcement action against Sir Philip Green and other former owners of BHS.

The regulator said after a “complex investigation” and months of talks with Sir Philip about a rescue deal for the pension scheme it was sending warning notices to the billionaire tycoon, Mr Chappell and their companies.

The regulator is seeking redress for BHS's 20,000 pension scheme members following an investigation.

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Sir Philip promised in June to “sort” the £571m pension deficit left behind by BHS, which collapsed in April barely a year after the Topshop tycoon sold the department store for £1.

He said he had offered regulators a deal, along with bank documents proving he had access to the required cash.

It was on 25 April this year that BHS officially went into administration after 88 years of business, putting 11,000 jobs at risk.

The day after, The Pensions Regulator announced it was looking at whether the owner of British Home Stores will have to plug holes in the collapsed retail chain’s pension fund.

Last month, MPs voted to strip Sir Philip Green, former BHS owner, of his knighthood, after the collapse of the the 88 year old store.

The regulator sent warning notices yesterday (2 November), to Sir Philip, Taveta Investments, Taveta Investments No 2, Dominic Chappell and Retail Acquisitions.

According to TPR, each notice runs to more than 300 pages and sets out the arguments and evidence as to why the regulator believes the respondent should be liable to support the BHS pension schemes.

A contribution notice demands a specified sum of money, and a financial support direction requires respondents to put ongoing support in place for a pension scheme, which must first be agreed with the regulator.

Those who have received warning notices now have a specified period of time to respond with their comments and representations in relation to the warning notice.

Following this, the regulator's case teams will then consider these before the case can be passed to the watchdog's determinations panel.

Lesley Titcomb, chief executive of The Pensions Regulator, said: “We have been clear in our public commitment to make significant progress by the end of 2016 and the issue of these notices meets that commitment.

“Our decision to launch enforcement action is an important milestone in our work to attain redress for the thousands of members of BHS schemes who have been placed in this position through no fault of their own."  

She added issuing warning notices at this time reflects the outcome of the investigations and that the regulator is yet to receive a sufficiently credible and comprehensive offer in respect of the BHS schemes.

She added: "We continue to pursue the best deal for members of the BHS pension schemes. If parties wish to approach us with settlement offers, that course remains open to them.” 

Frank Field MP, chairman of the work and pensions select committee, said: “We are not surprised that the Pensions Regulator has, like all the rest of us, lost patience with Sir Philip Green’s excuses and empty promises.