Business briefs: UBS trial | Islamic securities | Corporate crime | Thomas Cook

THE trial of a former UBS trader starts in London today, in a case involving losses of $2.3 billion (£1.4bn) that will subject the Swiss bank to an “uncomfortable” examination of its culture and practices.

Investment banker Kweku Adoboli, who was arrested a year ago when the huge losses came to light, has pleaded not guilty to two charges of fraud and two of false accounting related to disastrous trades that UBS says were unauthorised.

In the aftermath, the bank made major changes in both its staff and strategy that are still under way.

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Demand rises for Islamic products

DEMAND for Islamic law-compliant securities, known as “sukuk”, is forecast to grow three-fold from $300 billion (about £187.4bn) to $900 billion by 2017, according to Ernst & Young’s Global Islamic Banking Centre of Excellence.

The demand traditionally stems from Islamic financial institutions, fund managers and high net worth individuals. But conventional institutions are also showing interest in sharia-compliant sukuk after the eurozone debt crisis, primarily as these products are backed by real assets rather than risky debt, E&Y said.

Corporate crime team gets a boost

Pinsent Masons, the law firm which acquired Scottish peer McGrigors in May, has added two senior lawyers to its growing corporate crime team,

Anne-Marie Ottaway joins the firm from the Serious Fraud Office, where she was a case manager in the bribery and corruption business area, with responsibility for corporate self-reporting.

Solicitor Kim Green was previously at specialist white collar crime law firm Byrne & Partners. Her experience includes acting for clients in some of the Financial Services Authority’s biggest investigations.

Thomas Cook signs EasyJet flights deal

Beleaguered holiday firm Thomas Cook has reportedly signed a deal to book thousands of seats on flights run by low-cost carrier EasyJet.

The UK’s second-biggest travel company will use the EasyJet seats as part of its package holidays for next summer in a tie-up that expected to cover about 80,000 trips, or about 3 per cent of Thomas Cook’s capacity.

Thomas Cook was recently forced to turn to its banks for an additional £200 million of loans and has scaled back the size of its own airline in the past year as it moves to slash costs.