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Attorneys Battle On Nygard Stem Cell Development

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

Rival attorneys were yesterday battling over disclosures relating to Peter Nygard’s alleged efforts to construct a multi-million dollar stem cell facility in the Bahamas.

Gibson Dunn, the New York lawyers for Save the Bays and Mr Nygard’s Lyford Cay neighbour, Louis Bacon, are demanding that the video footage they are seeking from a ‘whistleblower’ include evidence of the Canadian fashion mogul’s plans to construct such a facility.

They are arguing that construction of this facility “is a motive” for the Bahamian government’s “actions and inactions” over construction activity at Nygard Cay, and why it has “denied the public sufficient access” to planning applications relating to the Canadian’s Lyford Cay home.

Both issues, they allege, are central to the two Judicial Review actions that claim development activities at Nygard Cay are illegal, and that the proper consultation process has not been followed.

The attorneys for Mr Bacon/Save the Bays are alleging that Mr Nygard is seeking to “narrow the subpoena” on whistleblower Stephen Feralio even further by preventing Save the Bays from accessing evidence on his stem cell plans “in the Bahamas”.

This, though, was denied by a spokesman for Mr Nygard, who said he had already agreed to the production of any videos showing construction at Nygard Cay - which would include a potential stem cell facility.

Instead, the Canadian fashion mogul’s objection is to broader discovery relating to a stem cell facility “anywhere in the Bahamas” - something that goes beyond the parameters of the two Judicial Review actions, which are focused on Nygard Cay.

The spokesman said Mr Nygard had “nothing to hide”, and slammed what he described as a “fishing expedition” by Save the Bays.

Elsewhere, the attorneys for Save the Bays insisted that video footage of private parties and festivities at Nygard Cay was still relevant to the case.

“To the extent the videos may also reveal members of the Bahamian government enjoying Nygard’s beach festivities, they would show a potential conflict of interest that would go to the merits of the Judicial Review action,” they alleged.

And Save the Bays and Mr Bacon are also seeking to expand the subpoena to include “donations by Nygard to political parties in exchange for favours, not just government officials”.

This, though, is being resisted by Mr Nygard and his camp, who suggest this is “irrelevant” to the Bahamian court actions.

Still, in a letter submitted to the southern New York district court yesterday, attorneys for Save the Bays said documentary evidence showed Mr Nygard had linked reconstruction of his home with the building of a stem cell facility during a June 19 meeting at the Office of the Prime Minister.

Referring to notes from the Bahamas Investment Authority, Gibson Dunn alleged: “In the June 19 meeting, Nygard claimed the stem cell facility (wherever located) would make the Bahamas a ‘magnet’ for medical tourism, resulting in both jobs and in revenue for the Bahamas.

“Save the Bays alleges in the Judicial Review actions that the building of this stem cell facility is a motive for the Government’s actions and inactions with respect to Nygard’s unlawful and environmentally damaging beach accretion and theft of Crown Land, and the Government denying the public and Save the Bays sufficient access to Nygard’s development plans in the Bahamas.”

Save the Bays’ US attorneys, disputing Mr Nygard’s position, added: “Nothing in Save the Bay’s pleadings renders a stem cell facility outside Nygard Cay irrelevant to the Judicial Review actions.

“The stem cell facility is relevant and at issue wherever in the Bahamas Nygard proposes it be constructed.” It added that the application for this information was being made “in good faith”.

Yet, in a statement responding to Tribune Business inquiries, a Nygard spokesman said: “If anyone is trying to bog down this process it is Mr Bacon’s lawyers, who are now asking the judge to broaden the subpoena beyond its original scope to include videos of construction of a stem cell facility anywhere in the Bahamas.

“We have nothing to hide on this issue, but this is completely irrelevant to the legal claims in this case and merely a fishing expedition to delay the process. Both sides already have agreed to produce any videos relating to construction at Nygard Cay, which would include groynes, dredging and any potential stem cell facility.”

The Nygard spokesman added: “The reason we asked the judge to narrow the subpoena is to speed up the process by zeroing in on the video supposedly pertinent to the case.

“These videos are stolen property - sold by Mr. Feralio without authorisation to Mr. Bacon - and include hours upon hours of footage of Mr. Nygard’s parties, volleyball games, and other personal, business, civic and philanthropic activities that would take several months to wade through. In the interest of time and resources, we are looking to expedite the process.”

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