Ex-BHS boss Darren Topp: Dominic Chappell threatened to kill me over £1.5 millionComments Off on Ex-BHS boss Darren Topp: Dominic Chappell threatened to kill me over £1.5 million
Dominic Chappell, the serial bankrupt who ran BHS until its collapse, threatened to kill the retailer’s boss Darren Topp, MPs were told today in an explosive hearing.
Topp alleged that Chappell threatened him when he questioned about £1.5 million that was moved from BHS UK to a separate firm in Sweden.
Chappell led little-known Retail Acquisitions, which bought BHS from Topshop tycoon Sir Philip Green.
Speaking to two Parliamentary committees probing BHS’s failure, concerning the £1.5 million figure, Topp said Chappell told him: “If you kick off about it, I’ll come down there and kill you.”
He added that Chappell had claimed to be ex-SAS and owned a gun.
Topp said that Chappell had told him “he was a turnaround expert who had just completed a significant turnaround of an oil company”. But “it became clear that rather than put money in [into BHS], he got his fingers in the till”.
Topp informed Green — who he was still in contact with — about his concerns when BHS embarked on its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) earlier this year in an attempt to turn its finances around.
He added that BHS did not get the full benefits of the £32 million sale of its Marylebone HQ because Chappell’s vehicle profited from it.
Chappell’s retail credentials have been a key question hanging over the collapse of BHS. Chappell today told MPs: “We knew nothing about retailing. We weren’t claiming to be retailers.”
For the first time, Chappell admitted that he had made a profit from the BHS saga and said he had “earned it”.
The comments will enrage the 11,000 staff who face losing their jobs after BHS administrator Duff & Phelps last week admitted no rescue bid for the business had been agreed. It is now winding down the 163 shops.
Chappell attacked Topp, claiming he had tried to “wriggle into” part-ownership of his Retail Acquisitions business.
Chappell also shed light on the revelations at the weekend that Green had given Retail Acquisitions a £10 million payment. He said £6.5 million came from Green, with the remaining £3.5 million coming in the form of a “soft loan” from the billionaire’s wife Tina. He said Retail Acquisitions put the money directly into the BHS group.
He went on to say BHS failed because of “continuous battering by the pension regulator and Sir Philip”. He claimed Green had already lined up Hilco and others to liquidate the company before offloading it to Chappell for £1.
He said: “I think Philip genuinely thought we would fail but he sold it to us nevertheless.”
Chappell said he was “shocked” when he discovered that Green had sold BHS’s Ealing store to his own stepson, Brett Palos. When he raised the controversial deal with Green, he responded: “that’s showbusiness”.
A week later, Green announced he had sold BHS to Retail Acquisitions for £1.