The FBI and New York police raided the corporate headquarters of Canadian fashion executive Peter Nygard Tuesday as part of a sex-trafficking probe, investigators said.
A spokesman for the Southern District of New York confirmed to AFP that the raids occurred at the Nygard building in Times Square without providing any further details.
Several women have accused Nygard, 78, of raping them at his Bahamas estate when they were young teenagers, according to a civil lawsuit filed in New York last week.
Nygard has been under investigation over the accusations for at least five months, reported The New York Times, which broke the news of Monday’s raids.
In the class action complaint filed February 13, ten unidentified women said Nygard had assaulted, raped and sodomized them after luring them to his seaside mansion on the pretense of lucrative modeling opportunities.
“Nygard used his considerable influence in the fashion industry, his power through corruption of officials, and a network of company employees under his direction, to groom and entice underage girls and women,” it said.
“When Nygard became aware of the investigation into his sex trafficking ring, he resorted to tactics of violence, intimidation, bribery, and payoffs to attempt to silence the victims and to continue his scheme,” the suit added.
Three of the women said Nygard raped them at “pamper parties” at Nygard Cay on New Providence island when they were just 14 years old. Another two said they were 15.
The perma-tanned Nygard, known for his long, flowing gray hair and flamboyant dress sense, has denied the allegations.
On Sunday, the Times detailed how Nygard’s long-running dispute with his billionaire Bahamas neighbor Louis Bacon had led to the lawsuit.
Bacon hired private investigators to pursue criminal charges against Nygard, a playboy who has reportedly fathered at least ten children with eight different women.
Nygard, the founder of women’s clothing company Nygard International, was worth a little over Canadian $850 million (US$ 640 million) in 2015, according to Canadian Business magazine.
Nygard International did not immediately respond to request for comment when contacted by AFP.
His case draws parallels with that of late financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was awaiting trial on charges he sex-trafficked young girls, including to his Virgin Islands estate, when he killed himself in a New York jail last year. AFP