Former Norton motorcycle boss pleads guilty to pensions investment breaches
The former owner of motorcycle firm Norton has pleaded guilty to three charges of breaching employer related investment (ERI) rules after he pumped more than five per cent of his firm’s three pension schemes back into his business.
Stuart James Garner, 53, was accused of illegally investing cash from the Dominator 2012, Commando 2012 and Donington MC funds which had a total of 227 scheme members.
The regulator said at the hearing that the three investments were made in return for preference shares between 2012 and 2013.
Nicola Paris, The Pensions Regulator (TPR) executive director of frontline regulation, said: “As a trustee, Stuart Garner failed to comply with restrictions on investments which are designed to protect the funds of pension schemes.
“Trustees have a vital role in protecting the benefits of members and we will take action where that responsibility is abused. Trustees should be clear on when a pension scheme can invest in its sponsoring employer.”
Garner oversaw the iconic British motorbike brand’s decline into financial failure between 2008 and 2020, during which time he was owner and chief executive.
A 2020 Guardian and ITV documentary that showed how more than 200 “ordinary working people” had had their entire pension pots invested into Norton shares and hte firm’s failure left savers’ £14m out of pocket.
The Pensions Ombudsman previously upheld a complaint from affected members of the scheme, and in June 2020, he was ordered to repay the pension savers but it is understood the holders are still waiting for any of their funds to be returned.
He is due to appear at Derby Crown Court for sentencing on 28 February where he could face up to two years in jail.