Fashion mogul Peter Nygard charged with sex trafficking by US

Canadian police arrested Nygard on Monday at the request of the US gov’t under the countries’ extradition treaty.

Peter Nygard
A sign bearing the likeness of Peter Nygard is displayed outside his New York offices [John Minchillo/AP Photo]

The Canadian fashion mogul, Peter Nygard, has been charged with sex trafficking, racketeering and other crimes targeting dozens of women and underage girls over a quarter-century in three countries, US authorities said on Tuesday.

Canadian police arrested Nygard in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Monday at the United States government’s request under the countries’ extradition treaty.

Acting US Attorney Audrey Strauss in Manhattan said Nygard, 79, had since 1995 used his influence and businesses to “recruit and maintain” victims in the US, Canada and the Bahamas to sexually gratify himself and his associates.

Nygard made an initial appearance in a Winnipeg court, where he wore a white face mask, a grey sweatshirt and sweatpants, with his long white hair pulled back in a bun.

Elkan Abramowitz, a New York-based lawyer for Nygard, declined the Reuters and Associated Press news agencies’ requests for comment.

Authorities claim that victims were assaulted by Nygard or his associates, with some drugged to ensure they met his sexual demands and that Nygard often targeted victims who came from disadvantaged backgrounds or had suffered abuse.

The nine-count indictment said Nygard used multiple means to recruit victims.

These allegedly included company-funded “Pamper Parties” named for their free food, drink and spa services, and held at his properties in Marina del Rey in California and the Bahamas.

The indictment said Nygard took some victims – he called them “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”.

Nygard also used threats of arrest, reputational harm and lawsuits to silence potential accusers, the indictment said.

His arrest on sex trafficking charges came after US federal authorities raided Nygard’s Manhattan offices in February.

The FBI raid occurred after 10 women sued Nygard, saying he enticed young and impoverished women to his Bahamas estate with cash and promises of modelling and fashion opportunities.

Several plaintiffs in the suit, filed in New York City, said they were 14 or 15 years old when Nygard gave them alcohol or drugs and then raped them.

Nygard has denied all allegations and blames a conspiracy caused by a feud with his billionaire neighbour in the Bahamas.

Born in Finland, Nygard grew up in Manitoba, eventually running his own namesake clothing companies and becoming one of Canada’s wealthiest people.

Nygard stepped down as chairman of Nygard International after its New York headquarters near Times Square was raided by the FBI.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies