BHS: Should there have been a regulator to give Green a wide berth?


With a yacht that big, clearly Sir Phil must be quite wide

SQUARE.JW.01Following yesterday’s questions about why the BHS pension fund is half what it should be, the unfolding tale of how ‘Sir’ Philip Green creamed off his getaway money from BHS, stuck the tax in a haven, and left a half-billion quid hole in the staff pension fund is quickly emerging. But Green had been followed by clouds throughout his business career: one is left, once again, wondering why he was thought a fit and proper man to be in charge of Arcadia.

Between 2000 and 2002, the BHS fund grew from £2m to £17m. After that, it went down steadily…and remarkably in line with trading difficulties. The Guardian’s three quotes this morning nail it all rather well:


But all I’m getting so far from MPs is “there must be an enquiry”. Screw the bloody enquiry: let’s see if we can find one straight cop somewhere in our Septic Isle, let him form a team, seize the books and start a forensic criminal investigation.

Green’s behaviour is not what you’d call philharmonic, nor is he particularly philanthropic, but it certainly does look like he’s been philling his boots. We don’t need an enquiry, we need Plod to feel his louche, open collar. And sequester his new yacht.

Certainly, he has form.

Green began sailing close to the wind in 1979, when he bought up the entire stock of ten designer label clothes sellers who had gone into receivership for next to nothing. He sent the stock to the dry cleaners, got them put on hangers, wrapped them in polythene to make them look new, and sold them at top dollar to the public.

When The Guardian  investigated some questionable tactics during Green’s proposed takeover of Safeway in 2003, Green responded to queries about Arcadia’s accounts by insulting and swearing at the journalists.

Green’s wife Tina Green owns all the family shares in Jersey-registered Taveta Investments. Whacking it all into the wife’s name to defraud creditors is a tactic as old as the hills, and the Greens excel at it: while BHS was losing money hand over fist, Taveta was paid £115m in fees and dividends. When they acquired Arcadia, Sir Phil’erup fronted up the purchase for the City….and sold the shares to Taveta within 24 hours.

He might takes risks with pensioners’ and creditors’ money, but not with his own.

However, the final certainty as to the genes pulsating through Philip Green’s corpulent form lies as always in the fact that David Cameron hired him. Never known for certain to have hired anyone honest, in August 2010, Green was asked by Dodgy Dave to carry out a review of government spending and procurement. Green’s summary report alleged significant failings in government procurement processes. It failed, however, to nail anyone later involved in somewhat Arabian decisions on railway contracts.

On meeting the two featherlites Cameron and Osborne a fornight before  the 2010 general election, Green came out in support of the Dipstick Duo, proclaiming “Cameron and Osborne understand what needs to be done. They get it.”

Well quite Sir Philip, quite. We understand perfectly what you mean.

Last night at The Slog: Obamarama – the Threaten Folks European Tour continues