TPR said in a statement on Wednesday evening that it had sent warning notices to Green, Taveta Investments Limited, Taveta Investments (No. 2) Limited, Dominic Chappell and Retail Acquisitions Limited.
Green’s wife Tina is the ultimate controlling party behind Taveta and will therefore will also be subject to this enforcement process.
Each notice covers 300 pages setting out the arguments and evidence as to why TPR believes the respondent should be liable to support the BHS pension schemes, following the sale of the business in March 2015 and its subsequent insolvency.
TPR chief executive Lesley Titcomb said: “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.”
Titcomb added that if parties wished to approach the regulator with settlement offers “that of course remains open to them”.
Green, Field and others respond
Reports said Green responded yesterday by saying “I have read the statement from the Pensions Regulator this evening and noted its contents.”
The BBC reported on Thursday that it “understands the regulator wants £350m in redress from Sir Philip, who is offering £250m”.
Frank Field, currently chair of the UK parliament’s work and pensions select committee, said: “We are not surprised that the Pensions Regulator has, like all the rest of us, lost patience with Philip Green’s excuses and empty promises. His answer throughout our inquiry was always that he was going to ‘sort’ the disastrous position he left the pension fund in when he sold off BHS to Dominic Chappell for £1. We are glad to see TPR is now calling his bluff and instigating enforcement proceedings.”
In further reaction, Graham Vidler, director of external affairs for the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association, said: “Sir Philip Green told the Work and Pensions Select Committee and the public that he would do the right thing by his former employees in the BHS pension scheme and ‘sort’ it. And to put it simply, that’s what he should do.
“The Pensions Regulator is doing the right thing today by exercising its powers to begin enforcement action but despite the regulator’s best efforts this is unlikely to result in a quick resolution. This whole situation could be resolved very quickly, and save a huge amount of time and cost, if Sir Philip voluntarily makes a payment that the regulator deems acceptable.”
TPR initiated an anti-avoidance investigation in relation to BHS in March 2015, since when demands for access to, and subsequent review of, almost 100,000 documents, as well as meetings and negotiations with various parties and stakeholders.
The closure of all of BHS’s stores after it went into administration left a £571m ($748m, €681m) pension deficit.