PAYBACK TIME FOR NORTON'S FORMER OWNER!
STUART GARNER HAS TO RUSTLE UP £14M TO REIMBURSE PENSION SCHEME MEMBERS!
Norton Motorcycles former owner Stuart Garner has been ordered to pay back the missing retirement fund money - a mere £14million - from the pension scheme he was in control of. This has come about after a forensic investigation into Norton's affairs and is the ruling of the Pensions Ombudsman which states that he has behaved 'dishonestly'. The investigation started as a consequence of claims by 30 members of three retirement funds he set up and ran, who said that he had consistently failed to make their payments when they were due. It seems that Garner had used the money from the funds to prop up the failing Norton motorcycle company but it collapsed into administration at the end of January.
The Ombudsman's ruling was that:
“The trustee [Garner] has acted dishonestly and in breach of his duty of no conflict, his duty not to profit and his duty to act with prudence.”
The whole affair was first brought to light in a joint investigation by the Guardian newspaper and ITV News which showed that 228 people who had invested in the pension scheme, thinking that it was legitimate and safe, had had their funds entirely invested in Norton via Garner's scheme. Garner was a trustee of the pension funds and ran the company in which the money was invested.
It seems that two other associates of Garner, Andrew Meeson and Peter Bradley were involved in setting up the pension schemes at Norton and apparently used money from reclaimed tax rebates from former fictitious pension contributions, to enable Garner to buy Norton.
Garner has maintained his innocence throughout proceedings saying that he was himself a victim of the fraudsters and had no idea about what they were up to.
However the Ombudsman has stated that in addition to the 14m, Garner also has to pay £180,000 to the original 30 applicants for “exceptional maladministration causing injustice”.
Oh dear, who knows what really went on but 'oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive' you might say!
Let's hope for clearer waters ahead for Norton under its new ownership.
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