A finance director who worked for Dragons' Den star Duncan Bannatyne's group of companies will appear in court today charged with fraud and money laundering totalling almost £8m.
Christopher Watson faces allegations of fraudulent activity between July 2008 and July 2014, concerning electronic transfers from the company accounts to his personal accounts and those of his businesses.
Watson, 45, from Darlington, will appear before Teesside Crown Court for a plea hearing.
The Darlington-based Bannatyne Group runs hotels, spas and health clubs across the UK.
It was established by the well-known TV entrepreneur in 1996 and boasts more than 180,000 gym members.