- Vivian Hendriksz |
London - Dominic Chappell, the former owner of fallen high street chain BHS, has been found guilty of failing to provide sufficient information to the Pensions Regulator.
Chappell has been charged with neglecting to respond to three section 72 notices which demanded he provide vital documents linked to his purchase of the company after a trial this week at Brighton Magistrates Court. He now faces an unlimited fine for failing to comply with the notices.
The former bankrupt businessman previously purchased the struggling retailer from Sir Philip Green for one pound in 2015 through the Retail Acquisitions consortium. BHS went on to collapse 13 months later, leading to the loss of more than 11,000 jobs and a pensions gap of approximately 571 million pounds.
District judge William Ashworth contemplated the case for some six and half hours before noting that part of Chappell's evidence was "not credible" after finding some of his explanations made "no sense" reported The Guardian. The Pension Regulator (TPR) noted that Chappell failed to provide them with the information they requested linked to their investigation into the sale and demise of BHS.
"The power to demand specific information is a key investigative tool in our work to protect people’s pensions," said Nicola Parish, TPR’s Executive Director of Frontline Regulation in a statement. "This conviction shows that the courts recognize its importance and that anyone who fails to co-operate with our information notices risks getting a criminal record."
Outside of the court, Chappell said he would appeal against the verdict. "As you can imagine, I’m extremely disappointed and annoyed about the outcome. It’s not the one we were looking for. I’ve instructed my legal team to put in an immediate application for an appeal on this case. We feel that this case has not been treated fairly and we will look deeply into this."
Chappell is set to be sentenced at the Winchester Crown Court on 19 January.