PETER Nygard’s contempt for The Bahamas’ legal system was a key reason a Canadian judge refused to release the Canadian businessman from detention pending possible extradition to the US.
Nygard faces nine counts of sex trafficking and racketeering in the US and has been in custody in Canada since December and over recent weeks has been fighting to be released on bail.
In a ruling issued on Friday Judge Shawn Greenberg said Nygard must stay behind bars as to release him – even with stringent restrictions on his movements – there was a risk he would try to leave the country.
Judge Greenberg wrote: “Mr Nygard’s failure to appear in court in The Bahamas for contempt proceedings also raises concerns about whether he will appear in court for the extradition hearing. Two warrants for his arrest have been issued by the Bahamian court. The contempt proceedings relate to his failure to comply with an injunction prohibiting him from dredging on his property and his failure to comply with an injunction prohibiting him from using privileged documents which had been improperly obtained by him.
“According to the recently released decision of the Court of Appeal for the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Mr Nygard breached orders to attend court on five occasions.”
Judge Greenberg also questioned whether Nygard’s claims that he was unable to travel before his arrest due to ill health were not borne out by his actions.
“Mr Nygard says he was unable to attend the contempt proceedings in The Bahamas because of health issues,” wrote Judge Greenberg.
“He relies on an affidavit presented in the Bahamian proceedings sometime after his last non-attendance, in which his Los Angeles physician states that he advised Mr Nygard to avoid travelling by air. Mr Nygard’s Winnipeg physician, Dr Harvey Lee, also told him to avoid air travel. As this advice did not dissuade him from travelling by air to Los Angeles in the winter of 2020, it is difficult to accept it as an excuse for not travelling to The Bahamas.
“Moreover, according to Dr Lee’s affidavit, this advice was first given to Mr Nygard in January 2019. So it does not explain why he did not attend court in The Bahamas in October 2017 and September 2018.
“Defence counsel argued that Mr Nygard’s actions since returning to live in Canada are not the actions of someone intending to flee. They say that he made no attempt to flee in spite of the fact that he was aware of the US investigation and potential to be charged.
“... While these factors may temper his actions, I am satisfied that Mr Nygard is a flight risk.”
Judge Greenberg also expressed his concern that if he were to free Nygard on bail there was a possibility he could try to interfere with witnesses involved in the case against him.
“I say that for two reasons,” wrote Judge Greenberg. “First, it is alleged, he has done so in the past. Second, I do not believe he will comply with an order that he not contact victims or witnesses either directly or through others.
“... He has failed to comply with multiple court orders in the past.
“In the end the issue is whether... it is necessary to continue to detain Mr Nygard to maintain confidence in the administration of justice. In my view it is.”