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Disgraced BHS boss Dominic Chappell ordered to pay £9.5m to pensioners

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Former BHS owner Dominic Chappell arrives at the City of London Magistrates' Court accused of tax evasion and buying two yachts to launder money. Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Images via Getty Images

Disgraced ex-BHS boss Dominic Chappell has been ordered to pay £9.5m ($12.3m) into his former company’s pension schemes after a tribunal struck out his appeal against a Pensions Regulator ruling.

Chappell, who bought the department store chain from Sir Philip Green for just £1 before leading the company into administration just a year later, had challenged the findings of the regulator.

Its determinations panel concluded that Chappell should contribute millions to the funds, noting that a series of acts taken in the company under his leadership were “materially detrimental” to the pension schemes.

When BHS collapsed in 2016, some 11,000 employees lost their jobs and the company’s pension schemes were left with a huge deficit.

In January 2017, the panel ruled that Chappell must pay £9,542,985 into the schemes.

It had concluded that management decisions of the company, an inadequate business plan, and the way money was “extracted and distributed to Chappell, advisers, company directors, and family members,” among other things, were detrimental to the schemes.

In November 2019, Chappell was handed a 10-year ban on serving as a company director, after the Insolvency Service found that he “wrongfully diverted” £1.5m in funds from BHS to a company in Sweden, just a day after the company’s board had discussed entering administration.

He also transferred more than £1m in BHS funds to his company Retail Acquisitions.

Chappell engaged in a lengthy appeals process against the Pensions Regulator ruling, however. But the regulator said on Tuesday that its decision to issue two contribution notices against Chappell stands, after the Upper Tribunal of the regulator struck out the appeal.

“We are pleased that the decision to issue two contribution notices to pay money into the BHS pension schemes stands,” said Nicola Parish of the Pensions Regulator.

In 2017, Green agreed to pay £363m in cash to rescue the pension schemes after the Pensions Regulator concluded that the “main purpose” of his sale of BHS was to sidestep responsibility for the insolvent schemes.

Under Green’s leadership, the scheme went from being in a surplus to a deficit.