Canada plans to oppose women’s clothing designer Peter Nygard request for bail, with a prosecutor saying there’s a serious risk he’ll flee before an extradition hearing on U.S. sex-trafficking charges.
Canadian prosecutor Scott Farlinger also cited what he called Nygard’s history of contempt for the judicial process for his opposition to letting the retail magnate out of jail. Nygard is wanted in the Bahamas in a separate case, after failing to attend a court hearing there.
Farlinger sought a delay for the bail hearing, saying prosecutors need to question two former executives at Nygard’s companies who said they’d be willing to put up $1.2 million (US$946,000) in assets to ensure Nygard’s appearance in court. The judge granted the request, over objections from Nygard’s lawyer, and scheduled the hearing for Jan. 19 and Jan. 20.
Nygard was arrested in Winnipeg, Manitoba, last month on request from the U.S., which is seeking his extradition from Canada on racketeering, sex-trafficking and related charges in a New York indictment that alleges criminal conduct over 25 years. Nygard used company money, resources and employees to traffic dozens of women and minors to force them into sex with him and his friends, according to the U.S.
Nygard has denied the charges.
He attended Wednesday’s bail application hearing by video in a near-empty courtroom in Winnipeg. On a large television screen, Nygard sat in a small room at the Headingley Correctional Centre, leaning forward and wearing a reusable blue mask over his face. The 79-year-old retail magnate wore a gray shirt, with his long gray hair pulled back in a bun, revealing a mustache when he pulled his mask below his chin, according to a pool reporter.
In an affidavit filed in the Winnipeg court, Nygard said he’s not a flight risk as he made no effort to leave Canada since February, allowed his passport to expire in September, and told his lawyer to advise Winnipeg police that he would turn himself in upon request. If released on bail, he said he would “rigorously” follow conditions set out by the judge, including monitoring by a GPS ankle bracelet and 24-hour house arrest, with exceptions for medical and legal appointments.
Nygard’s lawyer Jay Prober argued that delaying the bail hearing would be “grossly unfair and grossly unjust,” and said that every day Nygard languishes in jail puts his life at risk because COVID-19 is “rampant” there.
The former Nygard executives who said they’d be willing to put up their assets to ensure his appearance in court are Greg Fenski, former director of systems for Nygard Group of Companies, and Steve Mager, director of construction for the Nygard Companies.
Fenski said he would put up $900,000, saying he owns his home “free and clear.” He offered to have Nygard live at his house. Mager said he had about $300,000 in equity in two properties. Mager said he was convicted twice of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, but never for fraud.
Finnish-born Nygard founded the women’s apparel company Nygard International in 1967.
He’s been involved in a lengthy legal dispute with a neighbor in the Bahamas. Earlier this year, a Bahamian Supreme Court judge issued a bench warrant after Nygard failed to show up to be sentenced for contempt.