Former BHS owner Dominic Chappell has been convicted of failing to provide information about the company’s pension scandal.
BHS collapsed with the loss of thousands of jobs and a large financial hole in its pension scheme.
Chappell, 51, claimed he did ‘everything and more’ to help The Pensions Regulator (TPR) but was convicted of three charges under the Pensions Act 2004 after a four-day trial.
He has been found guilty of failing to provide information about the firm’s pension schemes to investigators.
Throughout the case at Brighton Magistrates’ Court his lawyers said he was a ‘scapegoat’.
But he was found to have had no reasonable excuse for not providing the information requested by TPR, with the prosecution suggesting he had been ‘making up the defence as he goes along’.
During the trial he accused TPR of being ‘hostile and deliberate’ in serving the section 72 notices, which require information to be provided to the regulator under the Pensions Act.
He said the notices signal that a company is the subject of an investigation into wrongdoing and had ‘fundamentally affected our business’.
In his defence he also said he spent months locked out of the chain’s headquarters with no access to crucial documents following its collapse, meaning he could not provide the relevant information.
District Judge Ashworth dismissed that explanation as ‘simply not believable’ and said he had not been a credible witness.
In a separate action, TPR is pursuing Chappell for a contribution, understood to be in the millions, to the BHS pension schemes.
A spokesman said: “Our separate anti-avoidance action against Dominic Chappell continues.
‘TPR’s determinations panel is considering evidence submitted by various parties and is expected to be in a position to issue its written determination notice to affected parties in the coming weeks.’