US & Canada

Peter Nygard: FBI raids fashion mogul HQ in sex trafficking probe

Businessman Peter Nygard in 2016 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Nygard has denied sex abuse allegations against him

US agents have raided fashion executive Peter Nygard's Manhattan offices as part of a sex-trafficking investigation.

The FBI and New York police executed a search warrant on Tuesday, a spokesman for the US Attorney's Office said.

The raid comes as Mr Nygard, 77, is facing a sexual assault and trafficking lawsuit, filed by 10 women and girls earlier this month.

He has denied allegations of wrongdoing.

The Finnish-Canadian multimillionaire, who has been linked to Prince Andrew, has been the subject of an investigation by the child exploitation FBI task force and New York police for the last five months.

He was reportedly the subject of a previous FBI investigation for sex trafficking in 2015 and 2017.

A spokesman for Mr Nygard said the fashion executive, who owns Nygard International brands, "welcomes the federal investigation and expects his name to be cleared. He has not been charged, is not in custody and is cooperating with the investigation."

Mr Nygard is estimated to be worth upwards of $700m (£538m). Brands owned by his company include Bianca Nygard, Tan Jay, ALIA and SLIMS.

What do we know about the lawsuit?

The sex abuse lawsuit was filed on 13 February by 10 unnamed female plaintiffs against Mr Nygard and his associated companies.

The lawsuit accuses him of sexually assaulting "young, impressionable, and often impoverished children and women" after luring them with cash and false promises of lucrative modelling opportunities. Some of the plaintiffs are minors.

Mr Nygard is accused of using alcohol, drugs, force or other means of coercion "to engage in commercial sex acts with these children and women".

Most of the assault and sex trafficking allegations took place in the Bahamas, where Mr Nygard has lived for years.

The lawsuit, which details complaints dating back four decades, also claims Mr Nygard would bribe officials to hide evidence of his crimes.

It alleges he kept a "database of potential victims" on his company's servers with details on over 7,500 women and underage girls.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Nygard hosted politicians and celebrities at his properties to promote his brands

The case has brought forth echoes of other recent cases of wealthy and powerful men involved in sex abuse.

Mr Nygard often hosted celebrities and politicians at his properties to promote his brands, including former President George H W Bush and actors Robert De Niro and Sean Connery.

Prince Andrew is friendly with Mr Nygard, and has been photographed with his family and the sportswear tycoon.

Though there is no suggestion he knew of allegations against Mr Nygard, the Duke of York was forced to step back from public life amid furore over his ties to Jeffrey Epstein, a sex abuser.

A spokesman for the fashion tycoon said the claims against him were "completely false, without foundation and are vigorously denied".

"Peter Nygard looks forward to fully exposing this scam and, once and for all, clearing his name," his spokesman said.