U.S. government looks to seize California properties connected with Peter Nygard
The United States attorney for the Southern District of New York wants to seize five California properties connected with Peter Nygard, including a Marina del Rey condo where the fashion mogul hosted so-called “pamper parties,” according to court documents obtained by CBC News.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss filed a forfeiture bill of particulars (a court application that lays out the property the government wants to sieze) on April 29 as part of the criminal case against Peter Nygard. The bill of particulars was only made available to the public in late May.
The government is asking the court to authorize the seizure of properties it says belong to Edson’s Investments Inc. and Brause Investments Inc., two American companies Strauss says are controlled by Nygard.
Nygard, 79, was arrested in Winnipeg in December 2020 and remains in Headingley Correctional Centre just west of the city.
The court filings are part of the government’s case to extradite him to New York, where he has been charged with a number of offences, including sex trafficking and racketeering conspiracy.
The extradition case is scheduled to be heard in the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench in November.
Nygard’s name doesn’t appear on any of the company documents for Edson’s and Brause but two of his former top company executives — Tiina Tulikorpi and David Paton — are listed as directors.
In previous court documents, Strauss said evidence gathered through the execution of search warrants shows the companies are all connected and Nygard controls them.
“Nygard’s company emails show, for instance, that Nygard controlled Edson’s and directed that money be moved between Edson’s accounts and others,” Strauss wrote in court filings in the extradition case.
Strauss said Nygard has been liquidating assets for several months and has been using top level executives to do it.
“During the past several months, certain United States-based entities controlled by Nygard have sold a number of real estate holdings in California, totalling nearly $70 million [US],” she wrote.
Nygard doesn’t own, operate companies: lawyer
The lawyer representing Edson’s and Brause says Nygard does not own or run Edson’s or Brause.
Domenico Magisano wouldn’t say if the two companies plan to fight the U.S. forfeiture bill of particulars.
The list of properties the U.S. government wants to seize include Nygard’s condo on Yawl Street in Marina del Rey, where he was known to throw “pamper parties” on Sundays — where girls and women would be invited for spa treatments, free food and dancing.
WATCH | A 2018 video posted to Facebook shows Peter Nygard at ‘pamper party’:
In February 2020, a class-action lawsuit was filed in New York accusing Nygard of sexually assaulting some of the alleged victims at these events. The court documents also accused Nygard of luring underage girls and women to the parties by promising them, among other things, lucrative modelling opportunities.
The class-action lawsuit has been put on hold until the criminal case against Nygard has concluded.
The U.S. government is also seeking to seize 9450 Topanga Canyon Blvd. and 13700-13704 Saticoy St. in California in the forfeiture bill of particulars.
Each of those properties had at one time been owned by Edson’s but have since been sold to other companies connected to Nygard.
A property profile obtained by CBC News shows that in 2015, Edson’s sold them to 9450 Topanga LLC and 13700 Saticoy LLC.
Those same documents also show in March 2020 the Nygard Foundation — a registered charity in Barbados specializing in stem cell research — registered mortgages on the Topanga and Saticoy properties in excess of $10 million.
Alex Zsadanyi was the project manager of west coast construction and operations for Topanga Properties, LLC and Saticoy, LLC.
He says he started working for Edson’s on Jan. 16, 2018, and was in charge of project management for 9450 Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Chatsworth, Calif.
Zsadanyi says there was a fire at one of the properties before he took over and it was his job to put together the insurance claim, get the money and arrange for the construction to rebuild.
A statement of information (a document detailing company information that has to be filed at regular intervals) filed with California’s secretary of state and dated June 29, 2020, shows Edson’s was the manager of Saticoy LLC.
While company documents show former Nygard executive Greg Fenske is the CEO of the two LLC’s, Zsadanyi says Nygard was the one calling the shots.
“Greg Fenske was running Edson’s and I was directly underneath him,” said Zsadanyi.
Nygard executive denied involvement in Edson’s
At Nygard’s bail hearing in February, Fenske claimed neither he nor Nygard had any involvement in Edson’s.
He testified that Edson’s was divested from the Nygard group of companies years before he got involved. He said he doesn’t know who controls it or who all the directors are. He said the company is owned by a trust, and has been told Nygard does not own that trust.
“I’m not aware of much that happens in Edson’s and Brause,” Fenske testified in February.
Emails provided by Zsadanyi show Fenske used a number of email addresses including email@example.com, along with Gmail and nygard.com accounts. Those emails also indicate Fenske looped in Nygard.
“Peter was the one really in charge. But all on paper, Greg Fenske was in charge and then [Nygard executives] Tiina [Tulikorpi] and Angela [Dyborn],” said Zsadanyi.
He says Tullikorpi and Dyborn — Nygard’s niece — were involved in Edson’s and its connected companies, the Saticoy and Topanga LLCs, but that they all had to get Nygard’s permission to do anything.
“If they want to do something or pay for something, even though nothing’s in Peter Nygard’s name, they have to directly call Peter Nygard and get approval from Peter Nygard to buy something or spend money,” Zsadanyi said in an interview with CBC News.
He said after nine Nygard companies went into receivership in March 2020, he was instructed to open new email addresses to communicate with Fenske and Nygard.
“We had to open up new emails, new phone numbers,” he said.
Documents filed with the California secretary of state show the manager of Saticoy LLC was changed sometime before Feb. 19, 2021, to a Greg Fenske company, NBH LLC.
Edson’s lawyer Magisano says Nygard does not benefit financially from the operations of the company.
“Mr. Nygard is not a beneficial owner of Edson’s and Brause, he does not control the companies, and he does not have access to company funds,” he wrote in an email to CBC News.
However, Edson’s company documents from July 2019 list 1771 Inkster Blvd. — Nygard’s Winnipeg headquarters — as the company’s mailing address.
Nygard executives Tiina Tulikorpi, Angela Dyborn and James Bennet are listed as executives. Nygard’s daughter Scarlet is listed as a director.
By March 2021, Dyborn and Scarlet were no longer on company documents. They show former Nygard company executive David Paton as Edson’s CEO, and Tulikorpi as a director.
‘The buck ends with him’: Nygard accuser
KC Allan, a former Winnippeger who says Nygard raped her in the 1970s, believes Nygard has set up a corporate shell game to hide his money so that only he can have full control over it.
“I think that every iota of his being thinks he’s going to eventually get out but that it might be a very expensive long slog,” Allan said in a phone interview with CBC News.
For years, Nygard had been represented by Winnipeg sole practitioner Jay Prober. But since his arrest in December 2020, Nygard has added some high profile lawyers to his legal team.
Allan thinks that’s part of the reason Nygard might be liquidating his assets.
“I think this is his moment where he realizes the bush-league Jay Probers of the world are not going to keep him out of a federal penitentiary,” said Allan.
“At his age, he will be paying lawyers monthly more than most of us make in a year,” she said.
Nygard’s representatives didn’t respond to questions about the allegations contained in this story.
Allan believes Nygard doesn’t think he did anything wrong, so it wouldn’t surprise her if was planning to use his offshore money to rebuild his business when the criminal case is over.
“This is not a man building a f–king empire.… This is not [Amazon CEO Jeff] Bezos or, you know, [Hollywood mogul Steven] Spielberg, even. Like, the buck ends with him,” said Allan.
“There’s going to be no company. So he’s not saving resources for a new future. You know, he’s saving resources to fight his way out. He’s not worrying about who you have to pay at the end.”