Stuart James Garner, the ex-owner of Norton Motorcycles, has been prohibited from serving as a pension trustee after illegally investing nearly £11 million of employee pension scheme funds into the company before its collapse. The Pensions Regulator (TPR) issued this ban, deeming Garner unfit to act as a trustee of trust schemes due to his conduct and behaviours that significantly and detrimentally affected scheme members.
Conviction and Sentencing in March 2022
In March 2022, Garner received a suspended prison sentence of eight months for breaching employer-related investment rules. Derby Crown Court found that he had transferred almost £10.91 million from pension schemes associated with Norton Motorcycles into Norton Motorcycles Holdings Limited when the company was struggling financially before ultimately collapsing in January 2020. This action put the pensions of 255 individuals at risk, leading to combined pension shortfalls of nearly £11 million.
During the court case, Garner's defence argued that he was unaware he was breaking the law when he used pension funds to support the business. The judge disagreed, emphasising that Garner's position as a trustee obligated him to act in accordance with the law, especially given the significant value of the pension fund.
Consequences of the Pension Trustee Ban
In addition to his ban from acting as a pension trustee, Garner was disqualified from serving as a company director for three years. The Pensions Regulator also ordered him to pay their costs of £20,716.
With his company director ban set to end in 2025, Garner has been permanently prohibited from acting as a trustee by the TPR's determination panel. This means it would be a criminal offence if he ever served as a scheme trustee again.
Continued Investigations into Recovering Scheme Funds
The investigation into how much money can be recovered for the pension schemes is ongoing, managed by BDO, the insolvency practitioners for Norton Motorcycles. The focus remains on supporting the independent trustee in pursuing compensation for scheme members through the Fraud Compensation Fund, according to Nicola Parish, TPR's executive director of frontline regulation.
This development underscores the importance of safeguarding pension scheme funds and ensuring trustees act with the utmost integrity and competence.
- UK Autumn Statement 2023 Unveils Sweeping Tax Reforms and Business Boosts - 22 November 2023
- Autumn Statement 2023: Tax Cuts, Business Measures, and Economic Growth - 22 November 2023
- Unlocking the Value of Property Accountants in Real Estate Finance: A Detailed Exploration - 22 November 2023