Dominic Chappell, the former owner of BHS, has been arrested as part of an investigation into unpaid taxes on profits made from the collapsed department store chain.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) officers are understood to have arrested Chappell, 49, in a dawn raid at his home near Blandford Forum, in Dorset, south-west England.
Chappell’s personal company, Swiss Rock Ltd, owes more than £500,000 in tax, including £365,000 in VAT and £196,306 in corporation tax. Swiss Rock was paid at least £1.6m by BHS as part of Chappell’s controversial acquisition of the department store chain.
HMRC refused to confirm that Chappell had been arrested. It said: “We do not comment on identifiable cases, but can confirm we have arrested a 49-year-old businessman.” The arrest took place on 2 November and he has subsequently been released.
Chappell did not return requests for comment. Speaking about Swiss Rock’s tax bill in September, he said: “There was a return that was made in error; they [HMRC] have acted upon it and we are rectifying that as we speak.”
BHS collapsed into administration in April, leading to 11,000 job losses and leaving a £571m pension deficit.
Chappell, a former bankrupt with no retail experience, bought BHS for £1 in March 2015 from Sir Philip Green through Retail Acquisitions, a consortium of which he owned 90%.
Retail Acquisitions collected an estimated £17m from BHS despite owning it for just 13 months before it collapsed. Green controlled the retailer between 2000 and 2015, during which time his family and other shareholders collected more than £580m.
In June, Green told MPs he would sort out the problems facing the pension scheme. However, no deal has been forthcoming and the tycoon was photographed on his new yacht during the summer.
Last month, the House of Commons voted unanimously to strip Green of his knighthood, which was awarded a decade ago for services to retail. During a fiery debate in parliament, Green was lambasted and described as a “billionaire spiv”.