Thursday, October 29, 2020

Ex-BHS owner Dominic Chappell charged with money laundering and tax evasion


The tycoon blamed for the collapse of High Street giant BHS has been charged with money laundering and tax evasion, MailOnline can reveal.

Dominic Chappell, a former racing driver, is accused of not paying tax on profits from his bankrupt finance company Swiss Rock Ltd.

Chappel, 53, has also been charged with money laundering relating to the purchase of two yachts.

The money laundering charges relate to the claim that he bought two boats with profits from Swiss Rock that he had failed to pay either corporation tax or VAT on.

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Chappell was seen as one of the chief protagonists over the demise of BHS.

He bought the retailer from Sir Phillip Green for £1 before it collapsed 13 months later with the loss of 11,000 jobs and a pension deficit of over £500m.

He is accused of using £182,500 from Swiss Rock, which he allegedly paid no tax on, to buy a yacht ‘Maverick 5’ in April 2015, a month after buying BHS.

Five months later he bought a second yacht Maverick 6 with £230,000 from Swiss Rock, which has since gone into liquidation.

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He is also accused of failing to register his company for VAT, failing to pay VAT and not paying the correct amount of tax.

Other charges include providing false information to accountants resulting in an under declaration of profits for Swiss Rock and failing to pay tax on dividends he received.

Legal experts said Chappell could be jailed for up to eight years if convicted on all the charges.

He is due to answer the charges at City of London Magistrates on June 18.

After the BHS collapse, the Work and Pensions Select Committee asked accountancy expert Professor Prem Sikka to carry out a detailed examination of Chappell’s Swiss Rock company.

The professor from Essex University reported back in late 2016.

This led to Department of Work and Pensions committee Chairman Frank Field MP referring the matter to the Serious Fraud Office who launched their own investigation that has resulted in the charges.

The shock collapse of BHS led to Sir Phillip Green paying £363m into BHS’s pension fund and calls for him to be stripped of his knighthood.

All 164 stores were closed down in June 2016 after administrators were unable to find a buyer.

The money laundering charges against Chappell, from Blandford Forum, Dorset, state that he ‘converted criminal property from Swiss Rock knowing or suspecting that it represented in whole or in part the proceeds of criminal conduct’.

A year after purchasing the yachts Swiss Rock was wound up owing £365,000 in unpaid VAT and £197,000 in corporation tax.

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Chappell was informed of the multiple tax and money laundering charges earlier this week.

The charge over unpaid VAT relates a time period during his takeover of BHS with a group called The Retail Acquisitions.

He is accused of failing to register Swiss Rock for VAT from the correct date, providing false information to the HRMC and failing to submit VAT returns from March 2015 to September 2016.

Another charge of ‘cheat the public revenue’ relates to Swiss Rock providing incomplete information to accountants that led to an under declaration of profits.

A third charge relates to a failure to pay tax on dividends paid by Swiss Rock.

Top City law firm Bark and Co represents Chappell.

A spokesman for the solicitors who specialise in tax and fraud issues said they had no comment to make.


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