Apparel magnate Peter Nygård has been indicted on charges of sex trafficking, racketeering and related crimes.
Nygård had a court hearing Tuesday afternoon. He remains in custody unless and until his defense counsel brings a bail application that succeeds in court, according to a spokeswoman for the Manitoba Courts. The next court date is Jan. 13.
The apparel executive has been accused by dozens of women of criminal conduct in the U.S., the Bahamas and Canada, among other locations. From 1995 and into 2020, Nygård lead the international clothing design, manufacturing and supply business that carried his name and was based in Winnipeg, Canada.
The 79-year-old, self-made retailer and apparel manufacturer was arrested Monday and taken into custody in Winnipeg. The unsealing of the nine-count indictment was revealed by acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss, assistant director-in-charge of the New York field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation William F. Sweeney Jr. and the New York Police Department’s commissioner Dermot Shea.
U.S. officials have committed that a request for extradition will be submitted to Canada within the next 60 days, according to highlights of the facts of the case provided by the Manitoba Courts spokeswoman Tuesday.
In announcing the indictment, New York officials said, “Over the 25-year period, Nygård used the Nygård Group’s influence, as well as its employees, funds and other resources to recruit and maintain adult and minor-aged female victims for Nygård’s sexual gratification and the sexual gratification of his friends and business associates. Nygård and his co-conspirators including Nygård Group employees used force, fraud and coercion to cause women and minors to have sex with Nygård and others.”
In previous lawsuits, Nygård had been accused of hosting “pamper parties” at his waterfront estate in the upscale enclave of the Bahamas called Lyford Cay, where some of his accusers claimed to have been sexually assaulted. Pamper parties were also allegedly held at his property in Marina del Rey, Calif. After being offered free food, alcohol and spa services, Nygård is said to have used a “girlfriend” or another employee to approach a chosen woman or girl to indicate his interest in sex. Nygård then allegedly engaged in sexual activity on the premises and paid her cash. Some unwilling participants were drugged to force their compliance with his sexual demands, according to the indictment. Others allegedly had no advance warning of Nygård’s interest in sexual activity and were taken to a secluded area on the property where Nygård “used physical force and/or psychological pressure to coerce sex,” according to the indictment.
He is also accused of having used modeling opportunities for his company as a ruse to attract victims. There are claims of sex and swingers clubs where Nygård directed and pressured “girlfriends” to engage in sex with other men in order to facilitate Nygård having sex with other women. Strauss’ office cited sexual swaps between Nygård and his friends. And Nygård is accused of using Nygård Group funds to pay his victims for commercial sex.
The vast number of allegations included “Nygård also used Nygård Group employees and funds to intimidate, threaten and corruptly persuade individuals who alleged that he was engaged in sexual assault and sex trafficking, including by paying witnesses for false statements and affidavits, threatening witnesses with arrest, prosecution and attempting to cause reputational harm and discredit potential witnesses by disseminating false or embarrassing information,” according to Strauss’ office.
A spokesman for Nygård declined to comment Tuesday.
Information provided by Strauss’ office alleged Nygård frequently targeted women and minor-aged girls, who came from disadvantaged economic backgrounds. “He controlled his victims through threats, false promises of modeling opportunities and career advancement, financial support and by other coercive means including constant surveillance, restrictions of movement and physical isolation,” according to the indictment.
Earlier this year FBI officials and NYPD officers raided Nygård’s Times Square offices in Manhattan. Strauss praised the work of the FBI and NYPD Tuesday.
Law enforcement officials have been building a case against Nygård for months. In late April, 36 unidentified women had joined a Jane Doe complaint alleging rape, sex trafficking and other crimes in 247-page filing in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. At that time, Nygård “vehemently denied these baseless allegation,” his spokesman said.
A spokesman for Louis Bacon, who has battled with Nygård for years legally, initially declined to comment Tuesday. The two executives, who have neighboring properties in the Bahamas, have filed multiple lawsuits against each other through the years. An initial complaint filed earlier this year, which consisted of 10 unidentified women, was reportedly backed by a Bacon-funded charity.
However, the spokesman for Bacon offered the following statement on his behalf Wednesday morning, “I hope that the news of Mr. Nygard’s arrest brings some needed comfort to the many courageous women and girls, who have suffered in silence for far too long. Many of these victims have pleaded for years for their voices to be heard and for justice to be done. On their behalf, I hope that this is the first step towards justice.”
Earlier this year, Nygård International Partnership filed for Chapter 15 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for protection from creditors in New York. Subsequently, a judge in Manitoba ordered Nygård’s group of Winnipeg-based companies into receivership.
In August, the beleaguered executive faced other legal problems. Two of his biological sons filed a lawsuit alleging that they were “statutorily raped” as teenagers by his “girlfriend,@ known sex worker.”