Former owner of Norton Motorcycles owner admits pension scheme crimes

stuart garner norton motorcycles doorstep. ITV News
Stuart Garner faces prison for crimes related to Norton's pension schemes, where 227 people had their savings in. Credit: ITV News

The former owner of Norton Motorcycles has pleaded guilty to illegally taking money out of people's pension savings to invest in the business, following a joint ITV News and Guardian investigation.

Stuart James Garner faces prison for taking out more than 5% of assets from three Norton pension schemes into Norton Motorcycle Holdings Ltd.

A total of 227 people had their pension savings in the three contribution schemes: Dominator 2012, Commando 2012 and Donington MC - Derby Magistrates' Court heard on Monday.

Between 2012 and 2013, Garner took out money from the schemes for preference shares in his business.

Under the Occupational Pension Schemes (Investment) Regulations 2005, it is illegal to take out more than 5% of the market value of pension scheme resources for investments in the employer (in this case, Norton Motorcycles), or anyone or property connected with the employer. There are exceptions.

The 53-year-old, of Park Lane, Castle Donington, Derby, pleaded guilty to three charges of breaching employer-related investment (ERI).

Watch Business Editor Joel Hill's February 2020 report into how public money was ploughed into Norton Motorcycles before it went under

Nicola Parish, The Pensions Regulator's 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.”

Mr Garner is due to appear at Derby Crown Court for sentencing on February 28 at 10am.

The maximum penalty for a breach of employer-related investment rules is an unlimited fine and/or a prison sentence of up to two years.