Fashion designer Peter Nygard has been denied bail, after spending nearly two months in a Canadian jail on a US extradition request.
Canadian police arrested Nygard in Winnipeg on 14 December at the request of US justice officials under the countries’ extradition treaty.
Nygard faces nine counts of sex trafficking and racketeering in the United States. Nygard, who appeared in court by video, has denied all the allegations.
At a court in Winnipeg, Justice Shawn Greenberg said she was concerned Nygard, 79, could tamper with witnesses if released.
His lawyers had argued that Nygard’s poor health left him vulnerable if he were to be infected by the new coronavirus in prison, but Greenberg said that did not automatically qualify him for release.
“It is not a get-out-of-jail-free card,” the judge said in her oral decision.
US justice officials accuse Nygard of having used his influence and businesses to recruit victims in the United States, Canada and the Bahamas since 1995 to sexually gratify himself and his associates.
Born in Finland, Nygard grew up in Manitoba, eventually running his own namesake clothing companies and becoming one of Canada’s wealthiest people.
Nygard gave no discernible reaction to the decision.
Prosecutors had argued the charges were too serious to release Nygard. US officials have not yet provided full evidence disclosure to Canada, and the Canadian justice ministry still must decide whether the case warrants a formal extradition hearing.
Lawyer Greg Gutzler, who represents women in a US lawsuit against Nygard, said the decision was a first step toward justice.
“We thank the court for recognizing the imminent danger that he and his myriad conspirators pose to society.”
Nygard is accused of having recruited victims at company-funded “pamper parties” in Marina del Rey in California and the Bahamas.
Last year, Nygard resigned as chairman of Nygard International after the FBI raided its New York headquarters. The company filed for bankruptcy in March.