The Supreme Court of Canada has levied a C$9.1 million ($7.3 million; £5.5 million) fine on a man who was convicted of one of the country’s most heinous crimes – the theft of 3,000 tonnes of maple syrup.
A group of robbers perpetrated the so-called Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist, which resulted in the theft of roughly C$18 million worth of maple syrup from the country’s stockpiles.
According to the court, Richard Vallières, a “key actor” in the plan, was ordered to pay a fine or face up to six years in prison.
Vallières was convicted in 2016 on fraud, human trafficking, and theft charges.
He is currently serving an eight-year sentence in jail for his crimes.
Vallières said in court that he sold the syrup for C$10 million and generated a personal profit of approximately C$1 million.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously on Thursday that Vallières must pay a penalty equal to the worth of the stolen goods within a decade after being convicted of theft. Previously, the Quebec Court of Appeal had reduced his fine to to C$1 million, which was equal to the amount Vallières claims he pocketed. However, the judgement overturns that decision.
The Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, sometimes known as the “Opec” of maple syrup, maintains an emergency supply of the commodity in order to assist in meeting global demand in years of poor harvesting. The province of Quebec is responsible for about three-quarters of the world’s maple syrup production.
Between 2011 and 2012, Vallières and the rest of the gang targeted a central Quebec warehouse where the product was being stored, frequently changing the syrup in the barrels with water to conceal their presence in the warehouse.
Afterward, the robbers sold and distributed the stolen syrup throughout Canada and the United States.
During a normal examination in 2012, an inspector stood on top of a stack of maple syrup barrels, which generally weigh approximately 270kg (595 lbs), and one of the barrels nearly tipped over, resulting in the discovery of the theft. It was completely devoid of everything.