WPC chair writes to TPR following TPO ruling on ‘shocking’ pension scam

The Work and Pensions Committee (WPC) chair, Stephen Timms, has written to The Pensions Regulator (TPR) with further questions on its plan of action following The Pension Ombudsman’s (TPO) ruling on the Norton Motorcycles pension scam.

TPO upheld the complaint against the Norton Motorcycle pension schemes’ trustee and company director, Stuart Garner, who has been ordered to return the money from the schemes that he used to invest in Norton Motorcycles.

Garner was trustee for the three pension schemes of Norton Motorcycles Holding Ltd, which were set up as part of a pensions liberation scam to provide funding for the company.

He was replaced by an independent trustee in May 2019 at the behest of TPR, before the firm fell into administration in January 2020.

Timms described the case as “shocking” and stated that it raises “serious questions” about the “effectiveness of the regulators involved and the protections we have for people who fall victim to pension scams”.

In his letter to TPR chief executive, Charles Counsell, Timms asked what further work the regulator plans to undertake on the areas of the case that fall outside of TPO’s remit.

The schemes were administered by LD Administration Ltd, which is now in liquidation, and Timms queried what circumstances had led to LD being permitted to administer the scheme and whether it there were many other smaller schemes with similar arrangements.

Timms also sought answers as to how many conflicts of interest, similar to those seen in the Norton Motorcycles case, TPR had seen since 2013, and if it had any plans on what action needs to be taken in any such cases.

Finally, he asked the regulator whether it now expects to conduct a wider review of arrangements of smaller schemes that have “similar characteristics” to the Norton schemes and, if not, what assurances it can give to savers about the regulation of this type of scheme.

In response, a TPR spokesperson said: “We note the letter from the WPC and will be responding in due course.

"Following an investigation, in May 2019 we appointed Dalriada as the independent trustee to three pension schemes associated with Norton Motorcycles, and that Stuart Garner was the sole trustee of, to prevent other savers being disadvantaged by transferring to the schemes.

“Following the company administration, we continue to be in close discussions with Dalriada and the administrators to Norton."

Timms had previously written to TPR in March 2020, seeking answers on its response to the scam.

To help combat scams, TPR and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are relaunching their awareness campaign, ScamSmart, next month, to help savers learn the signs of potential scams and avoid becoming a victim, while TPR has also issued regular scam avoidance advice during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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