Canadian women’s clothing designer Peter Nygard will spend Christmas in a Winnipeg jail as his lawyers try assemble a bail proposal that would allow for his release before a hearing on extradition to the U.S., where he’s wanted on sex-trafficking charges.
“We’re not doing bail this week,” Jay Prober, Nygard’s lawyer, said on Monday. “We’re still preparing a lot of material.”
Nygard, 79, was arrested in Winnipeg last week on U.S. charges claiming that for more than 25 years he trafficked dozens of women and underage girls for sex. In seeking a provisional arrest warrant, Canadian prosecutors said Nygard is a danger to the community and presents a “substantial risk of flight,” with control over “significant assets.”
Even though several of Nygard’s corporate entities were put into bankruptcy proceedings in Canada and the U.S., temporarily slowing his ability to liquidate some assets, he still has control over “significant” real property and bank accounts held by non-bankrupt entities, prosecutors said. Public real estate records show Nygard has been liquidating some of these assets, according to the filing.
As recently as April, he was considering travel to Malta or Bermuda, and in June he was looked into using an alias to travel, prosecutors said citing communications on an unnamed woman’s phone.
Nygard also has a history of failing to appear for legal proceedings, prosecutors said, noting a warrant was issued for his arrest in the Bahamas after he didn’t show for a court hearing.
Prober said Nygard “absolutely” plans to apply for bail, but it’s too late to get a hearing before Christmas.
“The challenge is that so far the prosecution is opposed to the bail,” Prober said.
Finnish-born Nygard, who founded the women’s apparel company Nygard International in 1967, faces racketeering, sex-trafficking and related charges in New York federal court.
U.S. prosecutors claim that since 1995, Nygard used company money, resources and employees to traffic dozens of women and minors. The retail mogul is accused in the indictment of sexually assaulting some of the victims and controlling women through surveillance and physical restraint.
He often targeted women and girls from disadvantaged backgrounds, plying them with phony promises of modeling jobs and financial support, according to the government. Nygard would sometimes trade women with his male friends and business associates for sex, using intimidation and threats to ensure they complied, prosecutors said.
Whether or not Nygard will fight extradition is yet to be determined “because we do not have all the disclosure from the prosecution,” Prober said.