Sir Philip Green has apologised for the problems experienced by British Home Stores (BHS) but said he was not responsible for the growing pension scheme deficit.
Appearing before the Work and Pensions Select Committee (WPSC) Green said he was not involved with the pension scheme until 2012.
"The trustees were independent of the company," he said. "I probably only met Margaret Downes (then trustee chairperson) about three times in ten years. I saw her in 2008/9 to understand investment strategy but I was not involved. It was a self-contained team and we were not involved in any way, shape or form."
He continued: "I might have had one or two discussions but I was never involved - maybe I should have been. However, there were substantial fees being paid to advisers. By 2005/6 it was north of £1.5m being paid to advisers but no-one came to us. There wasn't the right communications in place otherwise we wouldn't be here."
WPSC chairman Frank Field challenged Green saying: "Every witness we have had so far has told us you are the guy who calls the shots."
Green countered saying: "I was not in charge of the pension scheme at any point. Why didn't Margaret Downes come to us when we had a surplus to ask us about selling the scheme to an insurer?"
He later added: "There have been some bad mistakes made but trustees should take some responsibility as should the auditor."
MP Richard Graham asked Green what he believed his responsibility as sponsor is to scheme members, asking if he remembered any conversations as to how the corporate could fulfil its pledge to the scheme by plugging the deficit.
Green responded that he did not.
Green went on to say he was involved in trying to develop a solution to the situation and was working regularly with the Pension Protection Fund (PPF). However, he criticised The Pensions Regulator (TPR) for its lack of engagement.
"I have spoken to Malcolm Weir at the PPF and he will confirm we have been in regular dialogue and we are committed to finding a solution. However, we have hit a brick wall with the regulator.
"TPR's Lesley Titcomb has been here to see you and said TPR had been looking at BHS since 2013. Is it conceivable then by June 2016 we haven't had a call or email from her to try and fix it?"
He continued: "By some quirk of fate in the last week we have had a phone call from the regulator to say they would be interested in having a meeting. This is strange given the silence up until now. However, we do seem to have some light at the end of the tunnel."
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