The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has formally commenced enforcement action against parties it believes to be liable to support the British Home Stores (BHS) pension scheme.
TPR has sent warning notices to Sir Philip Green, Taveta Investments, Dominic Chappell, and Retail Acquisitions. These notices comprise arguments and evidence as to why TPR believes these parties should be liable to support the BHS pension scheme. The warning notices issued to Sir Philip Green and Taveta Investments differ to those sent to Dominic Chappell and Retail Acquisitions.
BHS was sold to Retail Acquisitions in March 2015. The organisation went into administration in April 2015.
The enforcement action follows an anti-avoidance investigation conducted by TPR, which launched in March 2015.
The notices include evidence to support the use of TPR’s Contribution Notice (CN) powers, which demands a specified sum of money, and its financial support direction (FSD) powers.
An FSD requires respondents to put ongoing support in place for a pension scheme. The form and amount of financial support will need to be agreed between the involved party and TPR. If no agreement is reached then TPR can move to impose a CN instead.
The individuals and organisations that have received warning notices now have a specified time period in which to respond. Their responses will be considered by TPR case teams before being passed to TPR’s Determination Panel.
The BHS pension scheme is currently in the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) assessment period.
Lesley Titcomb, chief executive at the Pensions Regulator, said: “We have been clear in our public commitment to make significant progress by the end of 2016 and the issue of these notices meets that commitment.
“Our decision to launch enforcement action is an important milestone in our work to attain redress for the thousands of members of BHS schemes who have been placed in this position through no fault of their own.
“Issuing warning notices at this time reflects the outcome of our investigations and that we are yet to receive a sufficiently credible and comprehensive offer in respect of the BHS schemes.
“We continue to pursue the best deal for members of the BHS pension schemes. If parties wish to approach us with settlement offers, that course remains open to them.”