CALGARY — A U.S. court has approved a multimillion-dollar settlement in a securities fraud class-action lawsuit against a bankrupt energy exploration company for which embattled Sen. Pamela Wallin was a director.Between June 2007 and December 2011, Wallin was a paid member of the board of Oilsands Quest Inc., a Calgary-based exploration company. As a director, the Saskatchewan senator was named in the lawsuit along with fellow board members, TD Securities and Calgary consulting firm McDaniel and Associates.The lawsuit, filed by investors in United States District Court in New York in 2011, alleged that Oilsands Quest and its directors overstated the value of the company’s assets by US$136 million.Defendants pumped up Oilsands Quest’s stock price by portraying the firm as the largest owner of valuable rights to bitumen in Saskatchewan’s oilsands“Through a series of false and misleading press releases, investor presentations and accounting manipulations, defendants fraudulently pumped up Oilsands Quest’s stock price by portraying Oilsands Quest as the largest owner of valuable rights to bitumen in Saskatchewan’s oilsands, creating a modern-day gold rush for what defendants knew to be largely worthless mining rights,” reads the original court document.It goes on to say company officials knew that the vast majority of the land contained no bitumen and “defendants engaged in contrived exploration and testing activities to justify the retention of worthless mining rights in order to mislead investors about the value of the company’s properties.”Handout/Oilsands Quest While most oil sands development is focused in the area around Fort McMurray in northern Alberta, Saskatchewan has significant oil sands deposits. But the oil is considerably more difficult to extract because the deposits are capped by a glacial till rather than the shale typically found in Alberta. Still, Oilsands Quest led a charge to develop on the eastern side of the boundary.The firm filed for bankruptcy protection in an Alberta court in November 2011 and for Chapter 15 protection in a U.S. bankruptcy court in February 2012. Its assets have been sold to Cenovus Energy.Earlier this month, United States District Judge Jed Rakoff signed off on a US$10.2-million settlement which gave claimants about 36 cents on the dollar.Rakoff is the judge who presided over a US$163-million settlement last year in the case of disgraced New York financier Bernard Madoff, whose Ponzi scheme defrauded investors of billions of dollars.Oilsands Quest has not admitted any wrong-doing and has denied all allegations. The firm decided it would be “desirable and beneficial” to settle because litigation could have dragged on.The settlement, by Canadian standards, is quite large, says a Calgary lawyer whose firm handled proceedings in Canada at the request of the U.S. lawyers representing the plaintiffs.It’s double digits. You don’t see a lot of those here“It’s double digits. You don’t see a lot of those here,” said Clint Docken of the firm Docken and Klym. “It’s more common in the U.S., but the fact they’re paying over $10 million I think is representative of something.“If you’re not liable, it’s not a nuisance lawsuit, so why would you settle?”It doesn’t appear that Wallin or the other directors will be out of pocket, Docken said.“It’s the directors’ and officers’ insurer who is paying this.”During her time as a director, Wallin earned nearly US$648,000 in cash and offered option awards, the court documents said. She resigned shortly after Oilsands Quest went into receivership.She did not answer a request for comment submitted last week by The Canadian Press.Wallin, who was appointed to the Senate in 2009, has also been on the board of Gluskin Sheff & Associates Inc., a wealth management firm with offices in Calgary and Toronto. She’s also served on the board for Porter Airlines. From 2007 to 2011 she was chancellor at the University of Guelph.Her finances have been under a microscope for weeks.The one-time journalist and former Conservative caucus member has been ordered to reimburse the Senate almost US$140,000 for ineligible travel expense claims. The order followed an independent audit of her travel expenses.A Senate committee alerted the RCMP to the results of the audit. The Mounties are already investigating living allowances claimed by senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Mac Harb.
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Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Rory Lewandowski, CCA, and Mark Sulc, Ohio State University ExtensionWe are quickly approaching the second good opportunity of the year for establishing perennial forage stands, which is in the month of August. Most of us were not able to establish forages this spring, and many existing stands were damaged by the winter followed by the heavy rainfall this year. It is time to make preparations and be ready to plant perennial forage stands in the next few weeks.Typically, the main risk with late summer forage seedings is sufficient moisture for seed germination and plant establishment. However, many parts of Ohio have adequate soil moisture from recent rains, and the outlook for the first half of August is for normal precipitation levels. Prepare now and be ready to take advantage of planting ahead of storm fronts as they occur in late July and early August.Advantages to late summer forage establishment include the following: forage seedlings are not competing with the flush of annual spring and summer weed emergence/growth, soil borne root rot and damping off disease organisms that thrive in cool, wet soils are usually not an issue, and there may be fewer competing farm tasks than in the spring.A very important consideration for seeding forages that is especially relevant this year is herbicide carryover restrictions. This will certainly be an issue to check on acres where corn and soybean herbicides were applied earlier this year in anticipation of planting, but rains prevented those crops from being planted. Before you consider establishing perennial forages on those prevented plant acres, please be aware that many grain crop herbicides have long rotation interval restrictions that will not allow safe planting of forages this year. The 2019 Ohio. Indiana, Illinois Weed Control Guide provides a summary table of herbicide rotation intervals for alfalfa and clovers (see http://go.osu.edu/herbrotationintervals). Forage grasses are not included in that table, but any restrictions will be stated on the herbicide labels. So, be sure to double-check your herbicide application history against the rotation restrictions stated on the labels for the forages you want to establish.No-till seeding in August is an excellent choice to conserve soil moisture for good germination. Make sure that the field surface is relatively level and smooth if you plan to no-till seed because you will have to live with any field roughness for several years of harvesting operations. Sclerotinia crown and stem rot is a concern with no-till seedings of alfalfa in late summer and especially where clover has been present in the past. This pathogen causes white mold on alfalfa seedlings. They become infected during cooler rainy spells in late October and November, the disease develops during the winter, and seedlings literally “melt away” in winter and early spring. It can be devastating where the pathogen is present. No-till is especially risky where clover has been present because the sclerotia germinate from a shallow depth. Early August plantings dramatically improve the alfalfa’s ability to resist the infection. Late August seedings are very susceptible, with mid-August plantings being intermediate.In a no-till situation, minimize competition from existing weeds by applying a burndown application of glyphosate before planting. Using no-till when herbicide-resistant weeds are present, such as marestail in a previous wheat field, creates a very difficult situation with no effective control options, so tillage is probably a better choice in those situations.Post-emergence herbicide options exist for alfalfa to control late summer and fall emerging winter annual broadleaf weeds. A mid- to late fall application of Butyrac (2,4-DB), bromoxynil, Pursuit or Raptor are the primary herbicide options for winter annual broadleaf weeds. Fall application is much more effective than a spring application for control of these weeds especially if wild radish/wild turnip are in the weed mix. Pursuit and Raptor can control winter annual grasses in the fall in pure legume stands but not with a mixed alfalfa/grass planting. Consult the 2019 Ohio, Indiana, Illinois Weed Control Guide and always read the specific product label for guidelines on timing and rates before applying any product.For conventional tillage seeding prepare a firm seedbed to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. Be aware that too much tillage depletes soil moisture and increases the risk of soil crusting. Follow the “footprint guide” that soil should be firm enough for a footprint to sink no deeper than one-half inch. Tilled seedbeds do not need a pre-plant herbicide.Finally, keep in mind the following factors to increase establishment success.Soil fertility and pH: The recommended soil pH for alfalfa is 6.5 to 6.8. Forage grasses and clovers should have a pH of 6.0 or above. The minimum or critical soil phosphorus level for forage legumes is 25 ppm Bray P1 or 34 ppm Mehlich-3 and for grasses it is 15 ppm Bray P1 and 20 ppm Mehlich-3. The critical soil potassium level is somewhere between 100 and 125 ppm for many of our soils.Seed selection: Be sure to use high quality seed of adapted, tested varieties and use fresh inoculum of the proper Rhizobium bacteria for legume seeds. “Common” seed (variety not stated) is usually lower yielding and not as persistent, and from our trials the savings in seed cost is lost within the first year or two through lower forage yields.Planting date: According to the 15th edition of the Ohio Agronomy guide, planting of alfalfa and other legumes should be completed between late July and mid-August in Northern Ohio and between early and late August in Southern Ohio. Most cool-season perennial grasses can be planted a little later. Check the Ohio Agronomy Guide (see http://go.osu.edu/forage-seeding-dates).Planter calibration: If coated seed is used, be aware that coatings can account for up to one-third of the weight of the seed. This affects the number of seeds planted in planters set to plant seed on a weight basis. Seed coatings can also dramatically alter how the seed flows through the drill, so calibrate the drill or planter with the seed going into the field.Seed placement: The recommended seeding depth for forages is one-quarter to one-half inch deep. It is better to err on the side of planting shallow rather than too deep.Do not harvest a new perennial forage stand this fall. The ONLY exception to this rule is perennial and Italian ryegrass plantings. Mow or harvest these grasses to a two and a half to three-inch stubble in late November to improve winter survival. Do not cut any other species, especially legumes.