Former Norton Motorcycles director and owner Stuart Garner is due to appear in court as an investigation into alleged fraud via three pension schemes reaches the prosecution phase.
Garner was dramatically ousted from the historic British company as it teetered on the brink of collapse in February 2020 as charges were sought on allegations of illegal handling of funds submitted by up to 227 members into pension pots.
It is claimed Garner used money invested in three schemes – Dominator 2012, Commando 2012 and Donington MC – to plug gaps in Norton’s own financial records, getting to a stage where people were prevented from accessing their money as the company slipped into further trouble.
Garner, 52, is accused of breaching Employer Related Investment (ERI) for investing more than the legally permitted 5% market value of the company.
If found guilty of these charges – which have been presented by the Pensions Regulation – Garner could spend up to two years in prison or pay a £50,000 fine.
However, this is just the first legal battle incoming for Garner with a separate case brought by the Pensions Ombudsman, which will focus on specific cases of wrongdoing.
Garner has maintained a relatively low profile since his fall from grace 18 months ago. This was quite the contrast to the big personality and even bigger promises he made to media and consumers.
However, it disguised serious mismanagement of the company’s finances and some shocking working practices, including stripping down owners’ bike submitted for a regular service to fit them to new models in an effort to circumnavigate a lack of parts owning to lack of funds that had led to long waiting lists.
More recently, new owners TVS Motors conducted checks on a number of models sold in 2019 to discover they were unroadworthy.