Now the pensions watchdog is taking a closer look at the rest of Green's empire

 
Hayley Kirton
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The pension pots for Arcadia Group have been called into question by the watchdog (Source: Getty)

Sir Philip Green may have a fresh set of questions to answer, as the pensions watchdog has launched a probe into the Arcadia Group.

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is already looking at whether it can demand Green foots the bill for the blackhole in the BHS pension scheme.

Now, The Sunday Times has reported TPR is investigating the funding of the two retirement schemes for Arcadia, which owns Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge and Evans as well as the Topshop brand.

Sources told the Sunday newspaper the watchdog started combing over the schemes at the same time it was looking into BHS and is understood to be paying particular attention to how long it will take to return the schemes to surplus.

Read more: Number of retail jobs is falling as workers face pay cuts

Arcadia Group's most recent set of accounts, which were made up to the end of August 2015, show the deficit across the two schemes has grown from £124.6m to £189.6m in the course of a year, while the deficit was just a mere £87.7m in 2011.

However, should Arcadia wish to enter a buy out deal, whereby a third party insures the members' benefits, it would cost a lot more than the book value.

When BHS fell into administration in April, it would have cost £571m to de-risk the pension schemes, a fact which sparked a parliamentary inquiry by the Work and Pensions committee into the function of pensions regulation. The Business, Innovation and Skills committee also ran its own inquiry into the £1 sale of BHS to Dominic Chappell's Retail Acquisitions in 2015.

Read more: Sir Philip Green has still not had an apology from Frank Field

Green and Frank Field, chair of the Work and Pensions committee, have locked horns on several occasions since the committees published their BHS report last week, which claimed Green and his family became "incredibly wealthy" off the back of owning BHS, while the retailer and pension fund were weaken to the point of collapse.

Green has since threatened Field with legal action if he does not apologise for comments he has made about the business tycoon, and today slammed the committee for turning the inquiry into a "kangaroo court".

Both The Pensions Regulator and Arcadia Group have declined to comment on the Arcadia Group scheme investigations.

However, an Arcadia spokesperson has previously told the Daily Mail the company "makes substantial contributions to the pension scheme of around £25m a year and has a good working relationship with the trustees."

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