The Stuart Garner/Norton Motorcycle saga has been going on for some years now. This Monday just gone though, he finally pleaded guilty to three charges of breaking employer related investment rules.
If you haven’t been following Garner-gate, this is what happened, in a nutshell. Stuart Garner illegally invested £11m of his employee’s pension funds into Norton Motorcycles to try and revive it, but he couldn’t, and all the money was lost. In the meantime, he took as many deposits as he could for new Norton V4 SSs, knowing that the factory could only deliver on a fraction of them (and the ones that they could deliver were below par anyway).
The new Norton owners are trying to help those who lost deposits, or received a bad Norton, as much as they can, and you can read all about that here.
This week’s news is related to the fact that he effectively stole £11m though, or £10,931,647 to be precise. The employer-related investment rules do sate that, as an employer, you are allowed to invest 5% of the total value of the pension schemes back into the business. But Garner invested the lot. All of it.
Last year, the Pensions Ombudsman declared that he’d acted dishonestly, and ordered him to pay the money back, plus damages. The case was then referred to a magistrates court, where District Judge Jonathan Taaffe ordered the case to be sent to Derby Crown Court, where Garner is due to appear for sentencing at 10am on the 28th February. 53-year-old Garner can expect quite a big fine and possibly a prison sentence of up to two years.
Nicola Parish, from The Pensions Regulator 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.”
So if there’s anyone else out there thinking of investing millions of pounds of your employee’s pensions into your failing motorcycle company, let this be a lesson to you. Don’t, because you’ll get caught, you’ll get into trouble, and everyone will hate you.