MPs quiz pension regulator role in Norton Motorcycles collapse

MPs from the Work and Pensions Committee have quizzed The Pensions Regulator to determine whether it could done more to safeguard Norton pension holders

John McGuinness - Norton

MPs looking into the collapse of Norton Motorcycles have turned their attention to the The Pensions Regulator to question how the firm was allowed to use three pension schemes to help fund the beleaguered company.

Norton Motorcycles slumped into administration on January 29 2020 owing more than £300,000 in unpaid taxes towards HMRC, but in the following days a murkier tale emerged revealing a possible scandal in which millions from pension schemes were used to pump money into the failing company.

Back in the 2012, CEO Stuart Garner was behind the creation of the Dominator 2012 Pension Scheme, the Donington MC Pension Scheme and the Commando 2012 Pension Scheme.

Over the following years the money was used to invest in Norton shares with dozens of people unable to access their money even after the tie-in period had ended.

Now MPs from the Work and Pensions Committee have written to TPR expressing concerns that the schemes were allowed to be set up and continue for so long without knowledge of the fraudulent activity.

According to the BBC, their letter reads ‘the arrangement began in 2012. Could The Pensions Regulator have acted before May 2019, some seven years later?’

It goes on to say, ‘increased interest in the three pension schemes set up, as part of a pensions liberation scam, to provide funding for the company".

"The previous trustee, Mr Garner, of the Dominator 2012, Commando 2012, and Donington MC pension schemes, was also CEO of Norton Motorcycles Holdings Ltd, and was replaced by an independent trustee in May 2019," the letter said.

MPs have also questioned when the TPR first became aware of Garner’s conflict of interest and has asked what it is doing to prevent such an oversight from occurring again.

A spokesperson for the TPR responded, ‘following an investigation, in May 2019 we appointed Dalriada as the independent trustee to three pension schemes associated with Norton Motorcycles and that Stuart Garner was the sole trustee of. Following the company administration, we will continue to be in close discussions with Dalriada and the administrators to Norton."

The government – which also pumped money into the company with grants - is under growing pressure to look more closely into the finances of Norton in the hope people who have lost money can recuperate it.

A recent Pensions Ombudsmen meeting invited Garner along to answer queries, but he didn’t appear and has remained unseen since the scandal came to light.