Self-made apparel executive Peter Nygard has consented to being extradited to the U.S. to face sex trafficking, racketeering and other charges.
Nygard, who has remained in custody since his arrest in Canada last December, appeared virtually before the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Glenn Joyal. Wearing a surgical mask, Nygard acknowledged the consent to committal that he voluntarily executed by signing Thursday.
Nygard’s attorney Brian Greenspan said Friday, “Mr. Nygard asked me to advance this position that although, in fact consenting to the communal, he does so, despite his continuing challenge to the veracity and reliability in the evidence contained in the case, he has always unequivocally maintained his innocence of any wrongdoing. This process can now move forward in order for him to face trial in the United States but [on] the basis for him to have the opportunity to raise his defense and to challenge the truthfulness of the evidence that has been brought against him.”
Special counsel to Canada’s attorney general Scott Farlinger noted that even after the order for committal is completed, Nygard cannot be surrendered from Canada for at least 30 days and he has a right to appeal the proceedings. However, that right will be restrained based on Friday’s consent to being extradited, although he can apply for judicial interim release while the Canadian minister’s release is pending.
A representative for Greenspan said Friday that an inquiry about any plans for an appeal had been forwarded to him. But Greenspan did not respond. Another attorney for Nygard, Jay Prober, did not acknowledge a media request Thursday.
Nygard’s appearance before the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench on Friday took place six weeks earlier than originally scheduled. Nygard had been slated to appear in court from Nov. 15 to 19. That date was moved up at the request of the court and his counsel.
After being arrested in December under the U.S. and Canada’s extradition treaty, Nygard is dealing with a nine-count indictment that was brought forward by the Southern District of New York. Sex trafficking and racketeering are among the charges that he is facing.
The 80-year-old Finnish-born founder of the now-defunct Nygard Industries was first taken into custody at the Winnipeg Remand Center and was transferred two weeks later to the Headingley Correctional Center, where he has been awaiting extradition.
Dozens of women over a period of decades have accused Nygard of varying degrees of criminal behavior, including rape and sexual abuse. Separate from the nine-count indictment in the U.S. and a Winnipeg Police investigation in Canada, Nygard has been the focus of a class-action suit in the U.S. by 57 women.
Some of his accusers, including those related to the nine-count indictment, have claimed they were minors at the time of the alleged incidents. There have also been accusations that some of those alleged incidents took place at Nygard-owned properties in New York, California and the Bahamas.
Last year, officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York City Police Department raided Nygard’s Times Square offices, where he also kept an apartment, and his Southern California home. Following the raid, Nygard stepped down from the company that he had built from the ground up. In addition, executives at Dillard’s, one of the last major retailers to distribute Nygard apparel, announced it was dropping the collection. Nine companies owned by Nygard went into receivership in March 2020,and a judge approved the receiver’s request to liquidate company assets.
Others have claimed that some of Nygard’s employees were involved in his alleged misdeeds.
Nygard and his legal team, including defense attorney Greenspan, have denied the allegations.
Earlier this year, Nygard”s attempts to seek bail were twice denied. An attempt in February was thwarted after the judge raised concerns that Nygard could potentially contact witnesses, if released, even under house arrest. An appeal in late March was made, but that was also denied. At that time, Farlinger presented Nygard as a potential flight risk. Nygard owns properties in Canada, the U.S. and the Bahamas.
In Canada, where Nygard housed it corporate headquarters, the company’s namesake was a significant employer. Even at the start of the COVID-19 crisis and in the midst of his heightened legal troubles in mid-March 2020, Nygard had several freestanding retail stores and nearly 1,500 employees. But shortly thereafter, the stores were shuttered and the bulk of his staff was handed pink slips.
The swirl of media coverage around the investigations into Nygard and his subsequent arrest has not subsided over time. More than 100 media outlets had inquired with the Manitoba Courts about coverage before Friday’s court appearance by Nygard. The self-made millionaire has also been the focus of a docu-series, podcast and other investigative pieces. As recently as Wednesday, the documentary filmmaker Noam Gonick said via email that he was at work on a project that has yet to be disclosed.
Although Nygard’s company specialized in affordable basic clothing that appealed to mid-level shoppers, its leader had a reputation for throwing over-the-top all-night parties at his seaside Bahamian estate, Nygard Cay. The indictment stated that over a 25-year period, Nygard used his company’s influence, as well as staffers, funds and other resources to recruit and maintain adult and minor-aged female victims for Nygard’s sexual gratification and the sexual gratification of his friends and business associates.
Some of his accusers in the U.S. indictment said Nygard and his handlers hosted “pamper parties,” where they ployed them with alcohol, or in some instances drugs, to sway them to allegedly engage in sexual acts with Nygard and his friends. Others claimed that Nygard staffers and women that were referred to as “girlfriends” acted as mediators relaying Nygard’s interest in having sex with them.