The Supreme Court of Canada has fined one of the men behind the notorious 2012 maple syrup heist in Quebec a whopping CA$9.1 million.

The stolen syrup was discovered after a routine inventory check by the Fédération des producteurs acéricoles du Québec found barrels full of water instead of syrup.

The Federation controls the production of maple syrup in Quebec. It’s kind of like the OPEC for maple syrup – a sweet-toothed cartel – so it’s fair to say they were pretty pissed about the theft.


The syrup was worth over CA$18 million, but during his trial in Quebec Superior Court, Richard Vallières said he sold it for CA$10 million and made a personal profit of around CA$1 million.

“Distinguishing between an offender’s income and expenses in order to determine the offender’s profit margin would essentially amount to legitimating criminal activity,” the Supreme Court ruling reads. 

Vallières has 10 years to pay the fine, failing which he will serve an additional six years in prison. He is currently serving an eight-year sentence for fraud, trafficking and theft.

 

To Markets …

The ASX 200 is down 9 points or 0.12% at midday today to 7,490.60.

European markets dropped yesterday as OPEC and partners resisted calls to boost crude production more than expected. The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.9%.

OPEC and allies including Russia backed another modest monthly oil-output boost, defying pressure to ease prices by pumping more.

“OPEC+ decided against the change in direction that might have helped bring the price of a barrel of Brent crude back under $100 a barrel,” AJ Bell analyst Danni Hewson says.

In the US, President Biden is expected to tap up to 180 million barrels of government oil reserves over the next six months to address the rise in energy prices in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the White House said Thursday.

That would be the largest release from strategic stocks in history, according to RBC Capital Markets. Global benchmark Brent crude for May delivery retreated 4.9% to $107.91 a barrel.

The US and allies have sought to bring down prices with strategic reserves previously, but effects have typically been short-lived. Members of the International Energy Agency agreed to release 60 million barrels on March 1, but Brent crude rose more than 7% that day.

In recent days, investors have managed to stay calm in the face of the continuing Russia-Ukraine crisis, also overlooking fresh Covid-19 lockdowns in China. Instead, they are focusing on declining oil prices in hopes that inflation could ease.

While Shangai is in a temporary lockdown, security-related developments may be in focus, after the Solomon Islands said Thursday that it had inked a wide-ranging security pact with Beijing.

Some analysts reckon this may pave the way for the first Chinese military foothold in the South Pacific.

 

ASX SMALL CAP WINNERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for April 1 [intraday]:

Swipe or scroll to reveal full table. Click headings to sort:

 

 

Pursuit Minerals (ASX:PUR) has identified multiple copper and gold drilling targets at its ‘Warrior’ project.

PUR says that a 700mx250m gold anomaly, which is 50x higher than the surrounding background values, were also identified at the Ablett prospect.

“Additional fieldwork in March confirmed our Warrior ground has the right host rocks for Ni-Cu-PGE mineralisation, and we look forward to receiving infill sampling results and completing our forthcoming Air Core program in April,” MD Bob Affleck said.

And the UK Regulator has taken the decision not to abandon the UK’s only two viable shale gas wells – owned by AJ Lucas Group (ASX:AJL) subsidiary, Cuadrilla Resources – “at this time of soaring gas prices.”

AJL chairman Andrew Purcell said its widely acknowledged that natural gas will continue to play a key role in UK energy supply for many decades to come, even as the country transitions to a Net Zero CO2 economy.

“We remain convinced that the Bowland shale gas resource has the potential to be a very significant contributor to UK energy supply and, in particular, a source of cost-effective fuel for heating UK homes and businesses,” he said.

“Given the rapid decline in indigenous North Sea gas production and the ongoing UK gas price and supply crises we consider that the billions of pounds being spent annually on importing expensive gas from the Middle East, the US and elsewhere might be better directed, in part at least, on developing what is recognised to be a substantial domestic shale gas resource.”

 

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS