Former Isle of Wight Businessman "Guilty" Of BHS Pension Charges

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Dominic Chappell, the majority shareholder of Retail Acquisitions, the organisation that bought BHS for £1, has been found guilty of failing to provide information to The Pensions Regulator (TPR) during the sale of the British retail organisation.

Chappell, 51, who claimed to be a racing auto driver, bought BHS from billionaire Sir Philip Green for £1 in March 2015.

The business had a £570 million black hole in its pension fund although Sir Philip has since agreed to pay more than £360 million towards the shortfall.

Chappell was found guilty of all three charges after a trial at Brighton magistrates court this week and faces an unlimited fine for failing to comply with the notices.

However Judge William Ashworth said Chappell was not a credible witness, and that parts of his explanation had made no sense.

"The defendant can alter his travel arrangements", Ashworth said.

But he was found to have had no reasonable excuse for not providing the information requested by The Pensions Regulator.

Chappell sat in the dock and did not react as judgment was delivered. Last night he said: 'I am extremely disappointed and annoyed about the outcome. "We will look deeply at this".

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"I've instructed my legal team to put in an immediate application for an appeal on this case, which we will be doing tomorrow".

In the first case of its kind, the pensions regulator proved that Chappell had failed to provide documents that would have laid bare the full scale of the crisis facing BHS.

"Anyone who fails to cooperate with our information notices risks getting a criminal record". It made a second request in May 2016 and a further approach in February 2017.

But he accused the regulator of being responsible for the leak.

Michael Levy, defending, told Brighton magistrates court that Chappell was a "political scapegoat" for the failure of the high street chain.

During the trial, Chappell had attempted to portray himself as a man more sinned against than sinning, claiming that he had wanted to cooperate with the regulator, but that his efforts had been curtailed by a number of factors.

Under section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004, Chappell was legally obliged to provide certain information regarding the purchase of BHS by Retail Acquisition and the participants involved, as well as transactions involving BHS and the organisation after the sale was complete.

The Pensions Regulator is also pursuing Chappell for a contribution - understood to be in the millions - to the BHS pension schemes in a separate action.

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