Garner Pleads Guilty to Re-Investing Pensioners’ Funds Back Into Norton
Back when we covered the reveal of Norton’s swanky, ultra-light supersport V4SS, we were impressed at the speed with which the then-CEO resurrected a brand purchased back in 2008, as well as his aspirations for the company.
With the subsequent V4SS recalls (over 30) and a long list of wince-worthy business decisions (including unpaid business loans, the revealing of which called for a government probe), it was more than obvious that ex-CEO Stuart Garner may have had bright dreams for the brand, but that they were backed up by questionable follow-throughs.
Now, a recent update tells us that the British businessman will be facing the Crown Court (High Court of Justice) and potential jail time for a further problem: defrauded pensioners’ funds that were re-absorbed back into Norton.
“[Garner] routed money from three pension funds he controlled — the Dominator 2012, Commando 2012, and Donington MC schemes — into Norton to help prop the business up as it struggled to pay off suppliers,” explains a recent report from Driving.ca.
“In June 2020 he was ordered to repay the money, variously estimated as being worth 11 million pounds ($15 million USD) to 14 million pounds ($19 million USD) after an investigation…found that he had acted dishonestly…” continues CycleWorld.
“It doesn’t appear that investors in the funds have seen any of their money back yet.”
At this point, Norton had already been sold to TVS for a neat 16 million pounds ($21.8 million USD), with the brand becoming a new entity (perhaps this is further evidenced by the recent application request for a change of company name found at the rounding of the year).
With Garner mentioning to MCN that “he placed his trust in the wrong people when the pension schemes were first set up,” it’s obvious things are more complex than they appear; unfortunately, Garner as Norton’s CEO is to be held responsible for what happened under his jurisdiction – a less-than-pleasant concept, though a real one.
“The current, TVS-owned Norton brand is a new company that has rights to the brand name and the intellectual property behind the bikes, but it’s not legally liable for the Garner-era iteration of the company when it comes to debts,” adds the report.
On Monday of last week, Garner pled guilty at Derby Magistrates’ Court to three charges of breaching employer-related investment rules, with the crime being “investing money from the three pension schemes into Norton Motorcycle Holdings Ltd. in return for preference shares between 2012 and 2013.”
Final sentencing will be carried out on February 28th at the Derby Crown Court, where his unconditional bail will likely turn into anything west of the maximum penalty for the offence – an unlimited fine and/or a jail sentence of up to two years.
Our best to the gents and ladies connected to this event – we wish them the best.
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