Pensions Regulator  

Chappell fined £124k for breaking pensions law

Chappell fined £124k for breaking pensions law

Former BHS boss Dominic Chappell has been ordered to pay more than £124,000 for failing to comply with pension rules.

In January Chappell was convicted of three offences of neglecting or refusing to provide information and documents to The Pensions Regulator (TPR) without a reasonable excuse, which he appealed.

He appealed against both the conviction and sentence but lost his appeal at Hove Crown Court in September and was ordered to appear in court again on Friday (December 14) to be sentenced for the second time.

Ordering Chappell to pay a £50,000 fine, £73,900 costs and a £170 victim surcharge, Judge Christine Henson said his appeal was "completely without merit" and said he had shown a "complete lack of remorse" for his behaviour.

She said: "It was persistent. It was deliberate. It was a blatant refusal to comply with the requests.

"His refusal to comply with the Section 72 requests caused significant delay to TPR’s task. It made their work significantly more difficult."

The thrice-bankrupt Chappell, 51, bought BHS from billionaire Sir Philip Green for just £1 in March 2015.

The department store went into administration in April 2016, putting workers' retirement incomes at risk and prompting an investigation by TPR.

In the end TPR reached a £363m deal with Sir Philip to fund a new independent pension scheme for 19,000 former BHS workers.

This was intended to give future pensioners the option of the same starting pension they were originally promised by BHS, and higher benefits than they would get from the Pension Protection Fund.

Nicola Parish, TPR’s executive director of frontline regulation, said Chappell consistently refused to provide the information about the sale of BHS the regulator demanded, despite the courts being clear he should provide it.

She said: "His repeated claims that he does not have to give us what we have been seeking have now been rejected by two different courts.

"Information notices are a vital investigative tool for us. As this case shows, if you ignore them you are committing a crime and should expect to be prosecuted."

TPR’s separate anti-avoidance action against Chappell in respect of the BHS pension schemes is continuing, it said.

In February the watchdog demanded Chappell pay around £10m into the pension fund.

maria.espadinha@ft.com