A tripartite agreement was signed on Monday (July 8) to implement a cannabis pilot programme in Accompong St. Elizabeth, under the Cannabis Licensing Authority’s (CLA) Alternative Development Project.The agreement was signed by representatives of the CLA, Accompong Town Maroons, and Timeless Herbal Care, during a press conference at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries’ New Kingston office.The Alternative Development Project is being implemented as a strategy to transition traditional cannabis farmers from an illicit framework into the regulated environment, as a means of promoting sustainable economic development and poverty eradication.It is also aimed at providing access to quality-controlled cannabis for medicinal purposes in keeping with government policy.Portfolio Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw, said that the signing will ensure that traditional growers of ganja/marijuana are not left out of the formal cannabis system.“This is what it is about. We are, therefore, putting together this pilot project, and we are here for the signing of the first of two major pilot projects,” he said, noting that another signing will be done for a project in Orange Hill, Westmoreland.Meanwhile, Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dermon Spence explained that the tripartite agreement sets out the terms and conditions under which the total crop of cannabis cultivated, in accordance with the authorisation issued to the traditional cultivation community (Accompong Town Maroons), will be purchased by the Authority (CLA) for the sale of an agreed amount to the downstream buyer (Timeless Herbal Care).“Much consideration has been given to the setting up of the arrangement,” he said, noting that the roles and responsibilities of each entity has been carefully outlined.Mr. Spence said that Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, is expected to launch the Alternative Development Project later this year.Meanwhile, Colonel of the Accompong Town Maroons, Ferron Williams, said he hopes that from the programme “farmers will be able to send their children to school and to have a better way of life”.President and Chief Executive Officer, Timeless Herbal Care, Courtney Betty, expressed appreciation to the CLA for “pushing through” with the project.“We are trying to build an industry in Jamaica for all of us, and the opportunities are great, not just for cannabis, but for any other project such as nutraceutical and cosmeceutical,” he noted.“The world is waiting for Jamaican products, and this is a major step in leveraging the history of health and wellness of the Maroons… that is going to be a model for the rest of the world to look at,” Mr. Betty added. A tripartite agreement was signed on Monday (July 8) to implement a cannabis pilot programme in Accompong St. Elizabeth, under the Cannabis Licensing Authority’s (CLA) Alternative Development Project. Story Highlights The Alternative Development Project is being implemented as a strategy to transition traditional cannabis farmers from an illicit framework into the regulated environment, as a means of promoting sustainable economic development and poverty eradication. The agreement was signed by representatives of the CLA, Accompong Town Maroons, and Timeless Herbal Care, during a press conference at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries’ New Kingston office.
TORONTO — Timber company Sino-Forest and several of its top executives defrauded investors, misled investigators and “engaged in deceitful or dishonest conduct,” the Ontario Securities Commission ruled in one of Canada’s largest corporate fraud cases.In a nearly 300-page decision released Friday, the regulator said the company and former CEO Allen Chan, as well as Albert Ip, Alfred Hung and George Ho defrauded investors by overstating the now defunct company’s timber assets and revenue.Allegations of fraud against Simon Yeung were dismissed, but the regulator concluded he misled staff during their investigation.The investigation into Sino-Forest was triggered in 2011 when short seller Carson Block of Muddy Waters Research published a scathing report accusing the company of exaggerating its assets and fabricating sales transactions in what amounted to “a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme.”“We applaud the OSC for persisting through an undoubtedly complex investigation and hearing to see that justice is served,” Block wrote in an email Friday.“It’s important to remember that our report was initially quite controversial and met with a good deal of hostility — at a time when the freedom of speech is under threat, this outcome is a reminder of the value of critical voices and freedom of expression.”The former executives now face the possibility of being permanently banned from Canada’s capital markets, or fined up to $1 million for each failure to comply with Ontario securities law.A separate hearing on sanctions and costs has not been set.Chan’s lawyer, Emily Cole, said her client was disappointed and would be going over the decision. Stephen Wortley, a lawyer for Ip, Hung, Ho and Yeung, said he was also reviewing the decision and declined further comment.Sino-Forest, which was established in 1994, was once the most valuable forestry company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Although it was based in Ontario, the company conducted most of its business in China until it collapsed in 2012.The decision by the OSC follows the settlement of several lawsuits by investors in connection with the case.In 2015, several Canadian banks and other financial institutions that helped the company raise millions on the financial markets agreed to a $32.5-million settlement in a class-action lawsuit filed by investors who lost money.David Horsley, former chief financial officer of Sino-Forest, also agreed to pay $6.3 million to the OSC and to settle class-action lawsuits in 2014, while Sino-Forest’s former auditor, Ernst & Young, agreed to a $117-million class-action settlement with investors in 2013.The case against Sino-Forest and its former executives was one of the most complicated cases in the Ontario Securities Commission’s history.“Today’s decision on the merits is an important milestone in a complex, multi-jurisdictional case that spanned close to 200 hearing days and involved over 2,000 exhibits,” the commission said in a statement.The hearing heard testimony from several witnesses from China over video conferencing and with the assistance of translators. There were more than 170 hearing days, 22 witnesses and over 22,000 pages of transcripts.Defence lawyers for the executives had argued that what the OSC called fraud were simply mistakes made by a fast-growing company. They also said that behaviours that may seem strange in a Canadian context were typical business customs in China.But the commission said Sino-Forest was listed on the TSX, was an Ontario reporting issuer, raised US$3 billion from investors, and was required to issue financial statements prepared in accordance with Canadian standards.“Ontario securities law is paramount and overrides any explanations for illegal conduct being excusable in the name of guanxi, however it is defined,” the commission said in its decision, using a Chinese term that refers to a network of influential relationships that help facilitate business dealings.— By Craig Wong in Ottawa