The Pensions Regulator has launched enforcement action against Sir Philip Green and other former owners of BHS.
The regulator is seeking compensation for BHS’s 20,000 pension scheme members, following its probe of the department store retailer, which collapsed with a £571m pension deficit.
The non-departmental public body has sent a 300-page warning notice to Green, his retail group Arcadia, and Dominic Chappell, whose Retail Acquisitions owned the department store when it buckled.
The notices could lead to Green being ordered to contribute to the shortfall.
In response to the warning, the retail tycoon argued he has given the regulator “a credible and substantial proposal” for the BHS pension deficit.
Green said his proposal comes with “evidence and bank confirmation of cash availability, which would prevent the scheme from entering the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).
“This is in order to achieve a better outcome for the BHS pensioners.”
He added: “I have also spoken to the chairman of the trustees who is supportive of the proposal on the basis that it provides members with better benefits than they would receive from the PPF.”
MP Frank Field has ’lost patience’
Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, MP Frank Field, who led the inquiry into BHS’s demise, said he is “not surprised” that the Pensions Regulator has “like all the rest of us, lost patience with Sir Philip Green’s excuses and empty promises”.
He said: “We are glad to see TPR [the Pensions Regulator] is now calling his bluff and instigating enforcement proceedings.
“It seems clear Sir Philip would rather kick the can down the road and avoid responsibility than come up with any fair, sustainable settlement for BHS pensioners.”
Last month, MP’s backed a call to strip Green of his knighthood for his role in the collapse of the retailer. However, any final decision on that matter would have to be taken by the Honours Forfeiture Committee.