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.
Canadian police arrested Nygard in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Monday (local time) at the US government’s request under the countries’ extradition treaty.
In Manhattan, acting US Attorney Audrey Strauss said Nygard, 79, had used his influence and businesses to “recruit and maintain” victims in the US, Canada and the Bahamas to sexually gratify himself and his associates since 1995.
“Mr Nygard vehemently denies all the allegations and expects to be vindicated in court,” his lawyer Jay Prober said.
Nygard wore a white face mask and grey tracksuit, with his long white hair pulled back in a bun, at an initial appearance in a Winnipeg courtroom.
He plans to seek bail and his next scheduled hearing is on January 13.
Nygard also faces class-action civil litigation in Manhattan, with 57 unnamed women accusing him of sexual misconduct. He has denied wrongdoing.
Born in Finland, Nygard grew up in Manitoba, eventually running his own namesake clothing companies and becoming one of Canada’s wealthiest people.
Authorities said victims were assaulted by Nygard or his associates, with some drugged to ensure they met his sexual demands. Nygard is alleged to have often targeted disadvantaged or vulnerable victims.
The nine-count indictment said Nygard used multiple means to recruit victims.
These allegedly included company-funded pamper parties named for 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.
In February, Nygard stepped down as chairman of Nygard International after its New York headquarters near Times Square was raided by the FBI.
The company filed for bankruptcy in March.