By Rod Nickel
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) -Canadian fashion designer Peter Nygard has consented to extradition to the United States, where he faces sex trafficking and racketeering charges, lawyers for the prosecution and defence said at a hearing on Friday.
Separately, Toronto Police Service issued a statement saying it had an arrest warrant for Nygard on six charges of sexual assault and three charges of forcible confinement between 1987 and 2006.
Canada’s justice minister still must decide whether to extradite Nygard.
U.S. authorities accuse Nygard, 80, of using his businesses to lure women and girls in the United States, Canada and the Bahamas since 1995 to sexually gratify himself and his associates – accusations he denies.
Crown prosecutor Scott Farlinger told a Winnipeg, Manitoba, courtroom that Nygard had agreed to extradition, which his lawyer Brian Greenspan confirmed.
Extradition allows Nygard to mount his defence at trial in the United States, Greenspan said, noting his client “has always unequivocally maintained his innocence of any wrongdoing.”
Nygard appeared from jail via video link, with his long grey hair pulled back from his face, wearing a blue mask and a jacket with the collar pulled over his ears. He spoke briefly to confirm that he understood the significance of agreeing to extradition.
Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal told Nygard his transfer cannot happen for at least 30 days and he has the right to apply for bail pending the justice minister’s decision on extradition.
The minister can consider that Nygard is wanted in Canada, said Gerard Kennedy, assistant law professor at University of Manitoba. One option is to extradite him on the understanding that the United States return Nygard to Canada to face charges, Kennedy said.
David Lametti is Canada’s justice minister, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to name a new cabinet this month following Canada’s election.
Canadian police arrested Nygard in Winnipeg in December at the U.S. government’s request under the countries’ extradition treaty.
Born in Finland, Nygard grew up in Manitoba, eventually running his namesake clothing companies and becoming one of Canada’s wealthiest people.
(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Howard Goller and Richard Chang)