Chappell gets £10m BHS bill from pension watchdog

Dominic Chappell, the former owner of BHS, has been slapped with a £10m bill by pensions watchdogs as they try to recover money owed to the bankrupt retailer’s retirement scheme.

Sky News understands that The Pensions Regulator (TPR) served a determination notice on Chappell last month to notify him that it is seeking the sum.

Under its rules, the three-times bankrupt was given 28 days – a period which is understood to expire within the next fortnight – to refer the order to the Upper Tribunal for the judgment to be reviewed.

If he does not refer the order, enforcement of the £10m demand would be pursued in the form of a contribution notice.

A TPR spokesman said: “Our separate anti-avoidance action against Dominic Chappell continues and TPR’s Determinations Panel has made its determination.

“We will publish the outcome as soon as it is appropriate to do so.”

TPR’s demand adds to Chappell’s troubles over the department store chain he bought for £1 from Sir Philip Green in 2015.

Chappell is due to be sentenced later this month after being found guilty in January for failing to provide the watchdog with information relating to BHS.

Dominic Chappell says he has been made a scapegoat for regulatory failures

Image: Chappell told his trial he had been made a scapegoat for regulatory failures

One source said on Thursday that the responsibility for pursuing Chappell for the £10m payment would lie with the trustees or the Pension Protection Fund, the pensions lifeboat which now administers payments to BHS pensioners.

It is unclear whether Chappell has the means to pay the money, or whether any failure to do so could lead to him being declared bankrupt for at least the fourth time.

The latest demand from TPR comes nearly a year after Sir Philip agreed to pay up to £363m towards BHS’s retirement fund.

The retailer’s collapse in April 2016 cost roughly 11,000 jobs and sparked a furious political row over the behaviour of large private company-owners.

Sky News revealed last weekend that a report by BHS’s liquidators disclosing that a 3.6p interim dividend – worth a total of roughly £36m – had been paid out.

Most of the interim dividend revealed in the FRP report has been funded by an agreement reached last summer in which Sir Philip’s Arcadia Group agreed to release its claim over a £35m floating charge linked to BHS.

The ‎progress report disclosed that investigations into the circumstances surrounding BHS’s failure are continuing, but provides few further details because of their “sensitive and largely privileged nature”.

It added that work to examine the disposal of properties “that appear to have advantaged certain parties potentially at the expense of the company”‎ was under way but was at an early stage.

FRP also said it would probe the “appropriateness of fees paid by the company in respect of advice received from professional advisers” – thought to include law firm‎s which have already faced heavy criticism from MPs when they investigated BHS’s collapse.

Shoppers walk past the boarded up BHS store on Oxford Street

Image: Shoppers walk past a boarded up BHS store on Oxford Street. File pic

Other inquiries into the department store chain‎’s demise, led by the Insolvency Service and the Financial Reporting Council, remain ongoing.

The 3.63p interim dividend compares to an original estimate by BHS’s administrators of a total recovery of up to 8p in the pound, suggesting that the eventual sum recouped from the chain’s wreckage could exceed that projection.

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However, that figure will still be modest ‎in the context of the £998m of claims received from unsecured creditors – the largest chunk of which relates to BHS’s pension scheme.

Chappell could not be reached for comment.