Ex-Norton Motorcycles boss pleads guilty over pension investment charges

Former owner of Norton Motorcyles, Stuart James Garner, has pleaded guilty to three charges of breaching employer-related investment (ERI) rules by investing more than 5 per cent of assets from each scheme into his business, Norton Motorcycle Holdings Ltd.

Garner was accused of illegally investing money in 2012 and 2013 from three pension schemes of which he was sole trustee: Dominator 2012, Commando 2012 and Donington MC.

Under the Occupational Pension Schemes (Investment) Regulations 2005 set out in Regulation 12 (2), subject to certain exceptions, it is a criminal offence to invest more than 5 per cent of the market value of scheme resources in ERIs.

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) executive director of frontline regulation, Nicola Parish, commented: “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.”

He is due to appear at Derby Crown Court for sentencing on 28 February.

The Pensions Ombudsman previously upheld a complaint from affected members of the scheme, with Garner also denied permission to appeal the £14m pension scheme repayment.

The Work and Pensions Committee subsequently reached out to TPR to confirm its plan of action following the "shocking case", with the regulator later confirming its intent to prosecute Garner.

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