SOCU chargesActing Chief Justice Roxane George, SC heard further arguments from attorneys representing former Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh and former Head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Winston Brassington, as the challenge to their misconduct in public office charges continued at the High Court on Monday.Attorneys Anil Nandlall and Ronald Burch-Smith appeared on behalf of the defendants, who were released on $6 million each.During Monday’s proceedings, Nandlall disputed the application of the British common law principle to Guyana’s laws, having cited conflicts with this country’s Constitution with the definition of a public officer. With several legal citations, the former Attorney General noted that the particulars of the offence for which the duo is charged has “no reference” that Singh and Brassington are public officers.“This is a fundamental defect, as the offence is misconduct in public office. They have made no allegation that the two men were public officers, so an important ingredient is missing in the charge, on the face of it,” Nandall outlined to JusticeDr Ashni Singh and Winston BrassingtonGeorge.He held to his position that the charge only has two elements; namely, ‘misconduct’ and ‘public office’. He outlined further that for misconduct to be occasioned, evidence would be needed to show high degree of recklessness or great dishonesty.“There must be an element of culpability,” the lawyer stressed.He stated that his legal team intends to exhibit an advertisement for the lands under question, to which the Judge responded that it should have already been done. Nevertheless, Nandall told the acting Chief Justice that it would be a worrying development for citizens to face charges for having accepted a lower valuation ($6 million against $12 million) where the lower valuation was calculated by Government’s own Chief Valuation Officer.“Our criminal law can never be so subjective, so unpredictable, so dysfunctional…If there’s another Executive Government that starts to review this Government’s Executive Policies and starts to pursue charges, where will it end?” Nandlall questioned.His colleague Burch-Smith observed that the former NICIL Head, Brassington, “never signed” the agreement.He referred the Queens Atlantic deal, where “a midpoint was chosen”, though reiterating that his client never signed the document. Burch-Smith stressed that the entire South Georgetown (including East, West, North and South Ruimveldt) and areas beyond Sherriff Street, Georgetown were all developed by Government. On these grounds, the lawyer stated, he could not understand how these actions with reference to the current case could be deemed misconduct.Justice George, however, reminded both attorneys to stick to evidence presented at the bar table.Singh, 45, of Goedverwagting, East Coast Demerara, and Brassington, 50, of Florida, USA, are accused of selling various properties at prices the State contends were grossly undervalued. These charges have to do with the sale of several plots of land on the East Coast of Demerara to National Hardware Guyana Ltd for over $598 million; the sale of land to Scady Business Corporation at a cost of $150 million, and to Multi-cinemas Guyana Inc. at a cost of $185 million. Bruch-Smith on Monday that he has not seen the documents relating to Scady Business Corporation.These charges were filed by Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) at the Magistrates’ Court following advice obtained from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DDP), but the two former Government officials denied the allegations. Their lawyers subsequently secured stays of execution to halt the lower court proceedings while they challenge the misconduct charges in the High Court.But then another set of charges were filed against Singh and Brassington, this time over the sale of the former Sanata Textiles Complex to Queens Atlantic Investment Inc (QAII). This, like other charges, was also challenged in the High Court, and back in July, acting Chief Justice Roxane George consolidated the four ‘misconduct in public office’ charges into one substantive challenge.It was alleged that between October 26 and December 20, 2010, the duo acted recklessly when they agreed to the sale of the Sanata Textiles Complex to QAII. According to the charge, the 18.976-acre property was sold for $697.8 million, but it was valued at $1.04 billion. However, according to privatisation documents published by NICIL, the property was valued at $245 million by the Government’s Chief Valuation Officer, but QAII paid $809.5 million for the property – more than three times the Government valuation as Guyana Times had reported. The case continues on October 23.
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Sep 24 2018Novartis today announced the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended approval of Gilenya® (fingolimod) for the treatment of children and adolescents 10 to 17 years of age with relapsing remitting forms of multiple sclerosis (RRMS). If approved, Gilenya® is expected to be the first oral disease-modifying therapy indicated for these patients based on a randomized controlled clinical study. The younger patient population experiences two-to-three times as many relapses as adults, often leading to a more severe prognosis and earlier disability compared to adult-onset MS. If approved, Gilenya would address the urgent need faced by these young people. This market authorization would expand the age range of Gilenya, one of the most prescribed MS treatments worldwide. Gilenya was previously approved for adults with RRMS aged 18 years and older in Europe.”The lives of kids are immensely impacted by the early onset of MS, from playing sports, going to school or enjoying time with friends and family. We need to address the urgent need for new and effective treatments, and with Gilenya, we may now have an option that can make a substantial difference for young patients”, said Paul Hudson, Chief Executive Officer, Novartis Pharmaceuticals. “This CHMP positive opinion is a testament to our relentless dedication to reimagining MS care across all generations. We are very excited to be a step closer to bringing this much-needed treatment to young MS patients across Europe.”Related StoriesNew curriculum to improve soft skills in schools boosts children’s health and behaviorPuzzling paralysis affecting healthy children warns CDCResearch team receives federal grant to study obesity in children with spina bifida”Today’s CHMP positive opinion is a momentous advancement for the children and adolescents impacted by MS,” said Pedro Carrascal, President, European Multiple Sclerosis Platform. “Young European patients and their families, who have long been hoping for an effective disease modifying therapy, could soon have a new treatment option to alleviate the devastating impact of this condition.”The CHMP positive opinion is based on the PARADIGMS trial, a first-of-its-kind clinical study in MS specifically designed for children and adolescents aged 10 to 17 years. Results from the double-blind, randomized, multi-center Phase III study of Gilenya vs. interferon beta-1a show that compared to interferon beta-1a, Gilenya significantly reduced the annualized relapse rates by 82% (relative difference to interferon beta-1a, p<0.001) and delayed the time to first relapse. Furthermore, it also significantly reduced the number of new or newly enlarged T2 lesions up to 24 months by 53% (p<0.001) and the annualized rate of brain volume loss (brain shrinkage) by 40%. The full PARADIGMS data was recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine.The European Commission will review the CHMP opinion and is expected to deliver its final decision within three months. The decision will be applicable to all 28 European Union member states plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. Gilenya received FDA approval for the treatment of children and adolescents 10 years of age and older with MS on May 11, 2018. Source:https://www.novartis.com/news/media-releases/novartis-receives-positive-chmp-opinion-gilenya-treatment-children-and-adolescents-ms-marking-major-medical-advance-young-ms-patients-europe