He's a feature of the frow with the likes of Kate Moss and Anna Wintour. Or can be seen partying with Beyonce and Cara Delevigne when not chilling in his A$200 million ($217 million) gin palace.

But things have taken a turn for the worse for billionaire Topshop owner Sir Philip Green - and it's all down to a tiny transaction that took place last year.

This week, Sir Philip and his wife, Lady Tina Green, the technical owner of Arcadia group that includes the Topshop and Miss Selfridge brands, faced calls to return to the UK from their tax haven home in Monaco for a grilling by two separate government committees.

From left, Suki Waterhouse, Sir Philip Green, Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne, Sienna Miller and Naomi Campbell. Photo / Getty Images
From left, Suki Waterhouse, Sir Philip Green, Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne, Sienna Miller and Naomi Campbell. Photo / Getty Images

The investigation follows the collapse of retail brand British Home Stores (BHS) leaving 11,000 people out of work and a A$1.1 billion ($1.19 billion) pension "blackhole" that UK taxpayers could be forced to foot.


The 164-store chain, which Sir Philip bought in 2000 for A$387 million ($420 million) failed after being starved of investment and failing to keep up with its High Street competitors like Zara and H&M.

It's been widely described as the stepping stone to the big time for the billionaire who paid more than A$775 million ($840 million) in dividends to his wife in Monaco during his 15-year ownership.

However last year, Sir Philip offloaded it to a twice-bankrupt man named Dominic Chappell leading a group of investors called Retail Acquisitions Limited for the nominal sum of £1 ($2.10).

Now the man once knighted for his business services and dubbed "king of the High Street" has been branded the "unacceptable face of capitalism" by one Conservative MP.

The sale is the subject of an investigation by the UK pension regulator as well as the business select committee who is looking into whether Arcadia did enough to ensure Retail Acquisitions Limited would be a responsible owner of the chain.

Business select committee chair Ian Wright said there are "enormous questions" about the sale of the company which will be put to the lawyers, bankers, auditors and others involved.

"The question that we want to ask Sir Philip Green, is, 'You bought BHS, took enormous sums out of the business, the pension scheme went from surplus to deficit and then you sold it for £1 to somebody who was twice bankrupt and who had no experience whatsoever of the retail sector - is that appropriate stewardship of a big, important company?" he told the BBC.

Mr Wright also said it raises questions about whether directors acted in the best interests of the company and staff or simply enriched themselves and left others to pick up the tab.

"Is there too much of an incentive in the system for owners to asset-strip, take out vast sums for personal gain, and then dump and run leaving the taxpayer to pick up the tab when the company fails, rather than create value for the long-term?" he said.