MPs have slammed former BHS owner Philip Green over the collapse of the retailer that has put 11,000 jobs at risk and saddled the public purse with its massive pensions obligations.
The vortex of vitriol was unleashed in a late night Commons session that saw Green pummelled by politcians from both sides of the house.
Iain Wright, chairman of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, said: “It cannot possibly be right that Sir Philip Green, as the previous owner of the company, loaded it up with debt, did not invest in the business and paid his wife over £400 million in dividends via the tax haven of Monaco.”
Green sold BHS to Retail Acquisitions – led by Dominic Chappell, a former bankrupt and racing driver – for £1, when it was saddled with debts over £1bn in debts and a £571m pension deficit, while Green and his family extracted more than that in interest on loans, dividends and rental payments during their ownership of the retailer.
Conservative MP Richard Fuller said that “if that sale was done on the understanding that it was avoiding a responsibility for those pension losses, then that £1 he received was equivalent to 30 pieces of silver in his betrayal of the employees and pensioners of BHS.”
The Guardian reports than in the 13 months between the 88-year-old company’s sale and its collapse, some £25m was taken from BHS and paid to Retail Acquisitions.
Meanwhile, Duff & Phelps were appointed administrators on Monday and confirmed that “the group will continue to trade as usual whilst the administrators seek to sell it as a going concern.”
Sports Direct is believed to have expressed an interest in cherry-picking some of BHS’s 164 stores, but did not want to underwrite its massive pension liabilities, while weekend talks collapsed.
It follows just weeks after BHS won a stay of execution after landlords and other creditors agreed to a restructuring plan that will dramatically slash its rent bill.
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