Peter Nygard consents to extradition to United States

Former fashion mogul Peter Nygard has consented to extradition to the United States to face sex trafficking charges.

The 80-year-old agreed to be sent to the U.S. during an extradition hearing early Friday morning that was captured on camera in the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench after multiple media outlets, including CTV Winnipeg, filed an application to broadcast the proceedings.

As that was happening, the Toronto Police Service announced it obtained a warrant for Nygard’s arrest in a historic sexual assault investigation.

However, Nygard could still be extradited in 30 days to answer to the U.S. charges, if Canada’s justice minister agrees to hand Nygard over to U.S. authorities before he answers to the new Canadian charges.

Nygard, wearing a disposable mask, with his hair tied back sat in a room in Headingley Correctional Centre and appeared via video link before Chief Justice Glenn Joyal acknowledging he signed a form consenting to the extradition.

“So you understand the significance of this document you signed Mr. Nygard?” Joyal asked.

“Yes, I do,” Nygard responded.

Scott Farlinger, a lawyer for the Attorney General of Canada, who’s been prosecuting the extradition case told the court Nygard won’t be extradited immediately.

It’ll ultimately be up to Canada’s minister of justice.

“He cannot be surrendered from Canada for a period of at least 30 days,” Farlinger told the court. “He has a right to appeal these proceedings, although that right will be, of course, constrained by the fact of the consent today, and he has the right to apply for judicial interim release while the minister’s surrender decision is pending.”

Nygard has been denied bail and has remained in custody in Manitoba ever since his arrest under the Extradition Act last December in Winnipeg on U.S. charges of sex trafficking and racketeering.

The U.S. indictment alleges Nygard and multiple co-conspirators engaged in a decade-long pattern of using force, fraud and coercion to entice and recruit women and girls into having paid sex with himself and others. Nygard’s lawyers said their client wants to fight those charges.

“His fight will be in New York,” said Richard Wolson, one of Nygard’s lawyers. “He’ll be arguing that there isn’t evidence beyond a reasonable doubt and that he should be found not guilty.”

The Toronto Police Service announced Friday it obtained a warrant for Nygard’s arrest on six counts of sexual assault and three counts of forcible confinement for alleged assaults in the late 1980s and mid 2000s.

“Mr. Nygard denies any allegations of criminal conduct,” said Brian Greenspan, another one of Nygard’s lawyers when asked about the Toronto charges.

Nygard’s lawyers said their client maintains his innocence and that his consent isn’t an admission of guilt. They said it’s only an agreement to extradition for which they say there is a lower legal threshold to prove.

“All that was conceded today was, because of this low standard, there is sufficient evidence based upon extradition law to warrant a consent to committal on the one charge,” Greenspan said.

Under extradition law, Greenspan said Canada’s required to specify a comparable offence that would be a crime here.

He said in this case that one charge is trafficking in persons, the only charge Nygard’s lawyers said he should be extradited on but that’s not all they’ll be asking for from the justice minister.

“We’re going to seek assurances that Mr. Nygard, should he be extradited, is placed in a place of detention where his life isn’t threatened by the conditions of incarceration,” Greenspan said.

Nygard will remain in custody in Manitoba for now. His lawyers said they’re concerned about detention centre conditions in New York where Nygard has been charged.

They expect and hope he’ll be extradited by the end of this year to answer to the U.S. charges.