Ex-BHS boss Dominic Chappell has been found guilty of failing to disclose vital information about the retail giant’s pension schemes after it collapsed.
Businessman Mr Chappell was in charge of the retailer in 2016 when it went under, leading to thousands of job losses.
He claimed he did “everything and more” to help the Pensions Regulator but was found guilty of three charges under the Pensions Act 2004 following a four day trial in Brighton.
Chappell, 51, who said he would appeal the conviction, was found to have no reasonable excuse for not providing the information requested.
He had been requested to provide information to TPR under the Pensions Act on two occasions in April and May 2016 and a third time in February 2017.
The third charge related to a request by TPR for information about an alleged leak of information from a confidential “warning notice” sent out in November 2016.
While there have been successful prosecutions brought in the past, including one woman who was tried in her absence, Chappell is the first person to be convicted after denying such an offence at trial, the TPR said.
Chappell, of Clenston Manor, near Blandford Forum in Dorset, was the director of Retail Acquisitions, the company that acquired BHS for £1 from billionaire Sir Philip Green in 2015.
The business went into administration in April 2016, leaving a £571 million pension deficit. Sir Philip later agreed to pay £363 million towards it.
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 William Ashworth dismissed that explanation as “simply not believable” and said he had not been a credible witness.
Chappell, wearing a suit and white open-necked shirt, sat in the dock and did not react as judgment was delivered, around seven hours after District Judge Ashworth retired to consider his verdicts on Thursday.