Stuart Garner, the former owner of British motorcycle brand Norton Motorcycles, has been ordered to pay back 14 million GBP missing from the company's employee retirement fund. Garner was refused permission by a court to appeal against a pension ombudsman's ruling. The ombudsman's decision was the result of an investigation triggered by claims of 30 members of retirement funds Garner controlled as trustee. The 30 members complained that Garner had repeatedly failed to return their funds when they were due. The UK Pensions Schemes Act requires trustees to transfer pensions within six months of an application.
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The latest development pushes the former CEO of Norton Motorcycles to the brink of personal bankruptcy. He is already the subject of a personal bankruptcy petition from Leicester City Council. He has been given permission to appeal against 180,000 GBP in distress payments leveled against him. Garner, who was the trustee of three Norton pensions funds, had invested all of the members' savings into his own company, but Norton slumped in administration in January this year. An investigation by the ombudsman found that Garner had "acted dishonestly and in breach of his duty of no conflict."
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Garner's pension funds mess and subsequent legal problems has no effect on TVS Motor Company acquiring Norton Motorcycles. The purchase is completely related to the motorcycle side of the business and its associated functions. In fact, under TVS ownership, Norton Motorcycles is in fact trying to honour some of the motorcycle orders booked under Garner's administration, even though TVS is not legally bound to honour those bookings.