Sir Philip Green faces being forced to pay towards BHS pensions because an official watchdog has yet to receive a 'sufficiently credible and comprehensive offer' to plug a £571million black hole in the scheme.
The Pensions Regulator has begun enforcement action against Sir Philip and serial bankrupt Dominic Chappell, to whom the retail tycoon sold the firm for £1, "to seek redress on behalf of the BHS pension schemes".
It sent warning notices to Sir Philip and his holding company Taveta, as well as Mr Chappell and his firm Retail Acquisitions Limited, setting out evidence to support the use of its powers.
The regulator said that following a "complex investigation" it issued the notices, each of which runs to more than 300 pages and details why the watchdog thinks Sir Philip and Mr Chappell should be liable to support BHS pensions.
Commons Business Committee chairman and Hartlepool MP Iain Wright drew attention to Sir Philip's lifestyle while backing the Pension Regulator's decision.
He said: "In June Sir Philip told us he would sort out the pensions mess at BHS.
"Five months on, we've seen Philip Green sunning himself on his yacht - his third - but no credible plan or cash on the table.
"He is meant to be able to do deals quickly but he hasn't been keen to do a deal which would quickly end the misery for thousands of BHS pensioners.
"Sir Philip said he would sort it but he has not yet been true to his word.
"He has not come up with the money to satisfy the regulator, who has clearly and quite rightly now lost patience with his obviously empty promises."
Pensions Regulator chief executive Lesley Titcomb said: "We have been clear in our public commitment to make significant progress by the end of 2016 and the issue of these notices meets that commitment.
"Our decision to launch enforcement action is an important milestone in our work to attain redress for the thousands of members of BHS schemes who have been placed in this position through no fault of their own.
"Issuing warning notices at this time reflects the outcome of our investigations and that we are yet to receive a sufficiently credible and comprehensive offer in respect of the BHS schemes.
"We continue to pursue the best deal for members of the BHS pension schemes. If parties wish to approach us with settlement offers, that course remains open to them."
It stressed the warning notices sent to Sir Philip, Taveta Investments Limited and Taveta Investments (No. 2) Limited are different to those issued to Mr Chappell and Retail Acquisitions Limited.
The move comes after MPs unanimously recommended Sir Philip be stripped of his knighthood.
In a debate last month, he was labelled a "billionaire spiv" and compared to Napoleon as MPs lined up to criticise his role in the retail chain's demise.