Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard was arrested in the United States following an FBI investigation and charged with extortion and sex trafficking.
Nygard, 79, who founded Canadian womenswear company Nygard International in 1967, was arrested Monday in Winnipeg and charged with trafficking dozens of women and girls over 25 years.
Elkan Abramowitz, a lawyer for Mr. Nygard, declined to comment. Mr. Nygard has denied similar allegations in the past, attributing them to a "smear campaign" by Louis Bacon, a billionaire hedge fund founder and his neighbor in the Bahamas.
The US Department of Justice said in a statement: “[Mr.] Nygard used the influence of the Nygard group, its staff, funds and other resources to recruit and maintain adult and underage female victims for [his] sexual gratification of his friends and business partners.
"[Mr] Nygard and his co-conspirators, including Nygard Group employees, used violence, fraud and coercion to induce women and minors to have sex with [him] and others."
At the beginning of this year, Mr. Nygard's companies operated approximately 170 stores in North America and more than 6,000 concessions in major department stores. The company employed nearly 1,500 people and owned brands such as Peter Nygard Collections, Bianca Nygard, and TanJay.
However, nine of its companies filed for bankruptcy protection in the US and Canada earlier this year after the allegations first surfaced.
Mr Bacon, who reportedly helped fund a class action lawsuit against Mr Nygard, told the New York Times earlier this year that he felt compelled to take action after hearing allegations of wrongdoing on his neighboring property.
Fifty-seven women joined this lawsuit in the United States, accusing Mr. Nygard of intimidating, bribing, and forcing them to have sex. Two of the women said they were 14 years old at the time. That lawsuit was suspended earlier this year while federal prosecutors investigated the allegations.
According to Tuesday's indictment, prosecutors promised that Mr. Nygard and his staff would have promised women modeling or fashion jobs to entice them into his orbit and held “pampering parties” for them that included free food, drinks and spa services.
They said Mr Nygard and his staff used company funds to pay for travel, living expenses, dental work, plastic surgery and abortions for their victims. They added that the company's employees and funds have been used to threaten and corruptly persuade its victims to keep quiet.
Mr Nygard appeared in a court in Winnipeg on Tuesday afternoon for his first extradition hearing, during which, according to the Canadian broadcaster CBC, his lawyer unsuccessfully asked to keep the trial secret. The next extradition negotiation is scheduled for January 13th.