North East Regional Special Operations Unit

Bannatynes Compensation

News / March 21

A former finance director who took almost £8m from Duncan Bannatyne’s gym business has been ordered to pay almost £500,000 in compensation.

Gambling addict Christopher Watson, 46, is serving a prison sentence of four years and eight months for fraud .

Today Teeside Crown Court ruled he made £7,974,221.88 from crime under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

His case was back in court under legislation aimed at seizing ill-gotten assets and cash from criminals.

Watson took huge sums from Bannatyne’s Fitness Limited over a six-year period to cover his debts with major betting firms.

Now he has been ordered to pay the “available amount” of £484,338.62 in three months - or face another three years behind bars.

The six-figure sum will be paid as compensation to Bannatyne’s Fitness.

Detective Sergeant Thomas Maughan, from the North East Regional Asset Recovery Team, said: “The order made today means that Mr Watson has to pay £484,338.62 within three months, otherwise a default jail sentence of three years may be imposed.

“After his offending was identified, the North East Regional Fraud Team, alongside our team and Crown Prosecution Service secured his known assets by using a restraint order and this will remain in place until all known assets are realised.

“Very importantly, Bannatyne Fitness Limited will receive compensation to the full value of the confiscation order made today.

“Unlike some forms of compensation this will not be paid monthly at a nominal amount, as Mr Watson’s current financial worth has been calculated and he should therefore pay this within three months.

“I’d like to thank all partners involved.”

© NERSOU 2018