Children's rights group wants province, Ottawa to look into extradition of Peter Nygard
Beyond Borders lawyer David Matas says there are grounds to pursue prosecution of alleged offences in Canada
A children's rights group based in Winnipeg is asking the province and federal government to investigate whether they can and should attempt to have Peter Nygard extradited to Canada, as he faces allegations of sexual assault.
The request comes a day after Nygard filed court documents alleging his former neighbour in the Bahamas, retired hedge fund manager Louis Bacon, recruited and paid women to make false statements about alleged sexual activities.
Forty-six women are part of a class-action lawsuit filed in New York against Nygard, alleging he raped them at his seaside mansion in the Bahamas and operated what they refer to as a "sex trafficking ring."
Many of the women involved in the class action are from the Bahamas, but 18 are Canadian.
Nygard, who grew up in Manitoba and whose fashion company is headquartered in Winnipeg, denies the allegations and none have been proven in court. No criminal charges have been filed against Nygard in relation to the sex assault claims.
Nygard International, which includes several clothing lines and 169 retail stores in North America, was ordered into receivership In March by a Manitoba judge.
On Thursday, David Matas, legal counsel for the anti-exploitation group Beyond Borders, sent letters to David Lametti, the attorney general of Canada, and Cliff Cullen, Manitoba's justice minister and attorney general, asking them to investigate whether Canada should request the extradition of Nygard so that they can pursue prosecution in this country.
"What we said in the letter is that we shouldn't just be leaving this issue to the Americans of Bahamians, that there's a strong Canadian connection and Canada should show initiative and leadership and concern in this area," he said.
Though Nygard hasn't been criminally charged with anything, Matas said the lawsuit has a very strong connection to Canada, with some of the alleged offences having occurred in Canada.
He added that under Canadian law, citizens can be prosecuted for sexual offences that they are accused of committing outside the country once they return to Canada.
Therefore, he believes the Canadian justice system would have jurisdiction to deal with the alleged offences.
A spokesperson for the federal Department of Justice said it is aware of Beyond Borders' request but that the minister of justice can only seek extradition from another state at the request of the authority who would be responsible for the prosecution in Canada.
"Requests from Canada to its partners are confidential and therefore we cannot comment on whether a particular request has been made unless a specific case is made public through the courts," spokesperson Ian McLeod said via email.
In a statement email to CBC, Ken Frydman, a spokesperson for Peter Nygard, said "Beyond Borders and David Matas must be confused.
"There are no charges or evidentiary basis for any charges. Therefore, there is nothing for which to extradite."
Jay Prober, Nygard's personal lawyer, read Matas's letter.
"Beyond borders is way off base. You don't ask about extradition unless there's something to extradite for. There are no charges against Peter Nygard anywhere in the world. There are no criminal charges, so there's nothing to extradite him for."
Prober couldn't say where his client is currently living.
Nygard files new court documents against neighbour
In a news release sent Friday, Frydman announced that he had filed court documents Thursday alleging that Bacon, Nygard's former neighbour in the Bahamas, paid women to make false statements.
The news release says a motion was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York to update a lawsuit against Bacon that Nygard originally filed last November.
The release says the sexual assault allegations levied against Nygard are false and part of a decade-long conspiracy driven by Bacon.
CBC has not reviewed these court documents.
"Peter Nygard looks forward to clearing his name by exposing the actions of Louis Bacon and his co-conspirators that have destroyed a much-celebrated fashion brand and resulted in more than 1,400 Nygard employees losing their livelihood," Frydman's statement says.
- A previous version of this story said 17 Canadian women were part of the civil class action lawsuit in the Southern District of New York. In fact, that lawsuit includes 18 Canadians.May 08, 2020 8:13 AM CT
With files from Meaghan Ketcheson and Timothy Sawa