By Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — A Canadian fashion mogul facing sex trafficking and racketeering charges in the United States is looking to the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn a decision that keeps him in jail.
Peter Nygard applied to the country’s highest court earlier this month for permission to challenge the ruling denying him bail. He is arguing inconsistency in how courts decide on incarceration when it comes to extradition hearings.
Nygard was arrested in December under the Extradition Act and faces nine counts in the Southern District of New York.
Authorities there accuse the 79-year-old of using his influence in the fashion industry to lure women and girls with the promise of modelling and other financial opportunities.
Defence lawyer Brian Greenspan told court earlier this year that his client denies all allegations and poses no risk if released.
Nygard’s bail was first denied in February. The judge cited concerns that Nygard would contact witnesses if released. He appealed that decision and was again denied release in March.
In that decision, Justice Jennifer Pfuetzner of the Manitoba Court of Appeal said Nygard’s detention was necessary to maintain confidence in the justice system, given the enormity of the allegations.
Nygard’s application to the Supreme Court says courts do not apply enough skepticism to unproven allegations when it comes to bail during extradition hearings.
“This has the potential to cause significant and undue prejudice to the liberty interest of the person sought, who has no evidentiary route through which he or she can challenge the accuracy or reliability of those allegations,” Nygard’s application says.
His lawyers presented the bail hearing with a release plan that included monitoring all emails and text messages. It also involved an in-home security guard and 24-hour video surveillance.
Federal prosecutors have argued that Nygard has the finances and personnel available to assist him in obstructing justice.
Nygard’s extradition hearing is scheduled to take place in November. The extradition request from the U.S. details accounts from seven alleged victims who are expected to testify in a criminal trial in that country.
The women allege their livelihoods and their movements became dependent on having sex with Nygard. They say they were coerced through financial means or physical force.
Nygard is also the subject of a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. involving 57 women with similar allegations.
Nygard founded his fashion company in Winnipeg in 1967. It grew from a partial stake in a women’s garment manufacturer to a brand name sold in stores around the world.
He stepped down as chairman of his company after the FBI and police raided his offices in New York City in February 2020.