WINNIPEG/NEW YORK (CANADA/USA) – Canadian fashion czar Peter Nygard was booked on Tuesday for sex trafficking, racketeering and other crimes targeting women and underage girls spanning 25 years, said US authorities.
He was arrested by police in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Monday on the behest of the US government under the extradition treaty between both nations.
Acting Attorney Audrey Strauss in Manhattan said Nygard, 79, had been using his influence and business since 1995 to “recruit and maintain” victims in the United States, Canada and the Bahamas to provide sexual gratification to himself and his associates.
“Mr. Nygard vehemently denies all the allegations and expects to be vindicated in court,” said his lawyer Jay Prober.
Wearing a white face mask, a grey sweatshirt and sweatpants and his long white hair in a bun, Nygard appeared in a Winnipeg courtroom.
He was later led away in handcuffs and leg chains. He plans to move bail application and his next hearing is scheduled on Jan. 13, 2021.
The fashion mogul is also charged with class-action civil litigation in Manhattan by 57 unnamed women who accuse him of sexual misconduct. He has denied wrongdoing.
Nygard, who was born in Finland, grew up in Manitoba and went on to own his own clothing companies and become one of the wealthiest Canadians.
According to authorities, the victims were assaulted by Nygard and his associates and some of them were drugged. He often targeted women from disadvantaged backgrounds and those who had suffered abuse.
As per the nine-count indictment, Nygard used multiple means to recruit victims and they included company-sponsored “Pamper Parties” known for their free food, drink and spa services at his properties in Marina del Rey in California and the Bahamas.
According to the indictment, Nygard took some victims – whom he called “girlfriends” – to swingers clubs where they would be intimidated into having sex with other men, “to facilitate Nygard having sex with other women and for his own sexual gratification.”
He also used threats of arrest, reputational harm and lawsuits to silence accusers, said the indictment.
After his New York headquarters near Time Square was raided by the FBI, he stepped down as chairman of Nygard International in February.