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Bannatyne finance director arrested – accused of multi-million pound fraud

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The Bannatyne Group's director of finance, Christopher Watson, has been arrested by Durham Police on suspicion of fraud. He sits on the company's main board.

Durham Police have made a short statement, saying: "We confirm a 45-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of a multi-million pound fraud on a Darlington-based business and the man has been bailed pending further inquiries.”

A spokesperson for Bannatyne said "We have no comment to make except to say that it does not affect the current operation of our successful business."

Chair of Bannatyne, Duncan Bannatyne, has grown the business from small beginnings into a huge multi-site operator with businesses encompassing health and fitness, hotels, spa and wellness and conference facilities.

Bannatyne also opened Casa Bannatyne, an orphanage for HIV positive children in Romania in 2004, having seen first-hand the desperate situation following the downfall of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

He's on record as saying the Bannatyne's Health Clubs business had a tough time during the recession and earlier this year it entered into a £92m sale and leaseback deal with M&G Investments on the ground leases of 39 of its 48 clubs.

The company had previously been grappling with the repayment of a £180m loan from the failed Anglo Irish Bank, which was nationalised by the Irish government in 2009, and the deal helped clear those loans.

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The Bannatyne Group's director of finance, Christopher Watson, has been arrested by Durham Police on suspicion of fraud. He sits on the company's main board.
HAF,FIT,IND,SAB,HHR,HOT,RST
Police are investigating a possible fraud at Duncan Bannatyne's Darlington-based business
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