Sir Philip Green is thought to have offered £250 million to help plug BHS’s pension deficit, £100 million less than the Pensions Regulator has demanded.
On Wednesday, the pensions watchdog began enforcement action against the Jewish tycoon Sir Philip and serial bankrupt Dominic Chappell, to whom the retail tycoon sold the firm for £1, “to seek redress on behalf of the BHS pension schemes”.
When BHS collapsed in April, it was left with a £571 million pension deficit and the scheme has fallen into the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).
The Pensions Regulator is reportedly pursuing a payment of £350 million, while the billionaire is only willing to part with £250 million, according to the BBC.
Sir Philip pledged to MPs in June that he would “sort” the retailer’s pension problem, but no deal between the Topshop tycoon and the Pensions Regulator has emerged.
In a statement, the watchdog said it has started enforcement action because it has yet to receive a “sufficiently credible and comprehensive offer” from Sir Philip.
It sent warning notices to Sir Philip and his holding company Taveta, as well as Mr Chappell and his firm Retail Acquisitions Ltd.
Sir Philip immediately rebuffed the claims.
He said: “I have provided the regulator with what I believe to be a credible and substantial proposal, with evidence and bank confirmation of cash availability, which would prevent the scheme from entering the Pension Protection Fund.
“This is in order to achieve a better outcome for the BHS pensioners.”
However, Commons Work and Pensions Committee chairman Frank Field, who has led the charge against Sir Philip, demanded that he “make his proposal public”.
The veteran Labour MP told the Press Association: “I challenge Philip Green to make his proposal public. The Pensions Regulator shouldn’t settle for a penny less than what is owed and he should get his cheque book out.”