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BCCI man's appeal turned down

THE COURT of Appeal yesterday rejected the appeal by a key figure in the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) scandal against his 14 year prison sentence. Abbas Gokal was sentenced and ordered to pay costs of pounds 4.3m last April for his role as chairman of Gulf Group, a shipping company which was the the biggest single borrower from BCCI. He had conspired with senior BCCI officials to swindle the bank of $1.2bn, and was found guilty of false accounting and conspiracy to defraud. In giving his ruling, Lord Justice Rose said Gokal was at the heart of a highly sophisticated fraud, the largest experienced in the UK and with international consequences of great gravity.

United Biscuits profits rise

UNITED BISCUITS, the McVitie's and Hula Hoops snacks group, has started to shrug off a prolonged period of under-performance with a 4 per cent rise in underlying full-year profits to pounds 110m. The company, which this week lost its chief executive Eric Nicoli (pictured) to EMI, saw UK profits at McVitie's edge up by 2 per cent with strong performances from its Go Ahead, Hob Nob and Penguin brands. Separately it emerged yesterday that Keebler, the US snacks business UB sold two years go after a disastrous performance, is now enjoying soaring profits and market share.

BoS launches life insurer

BANK OF SCOTLAND yesterday entered the long-term savings business in earnest by launching its own life insurance company. The bank is linking up with Edinburgh Fund Managers and Legal & General to handle investment management, and five other companies. Gavin Masterton, managing director, said the new company, to be called Bank of Scotland Investors Club, would be able to "leapfrog" other companies by developing new-generation computer systems.