Retail Magnate Peter Nygard Faces Arrest Over Bahamas Dredging Fight

(Bloomberg) -- Peter Nygard has exhausted the patience of a Bahamian Supreme Court judge, who ordered the Canadian retail magnate arrested after he repeatedly failed to show for sentencing.

Cheryl Grant-Thompson issued the bench warrant Monday after Nygard failed to show up to be sentenced for contempt, according to Save the Bays, an environmental group his neighbor, hedge fund founder Louis Bacon, helped found.

Nygard was found to be in contempt of court last year after allegedly dredging the sea floor near his Bahamas residence in 2015 and 2016, despite a 2013 injunction blocking him from doing so, according to Save the Bays. Grant-Thompson said she had “zero tolerance” for Nygard’s failure to follow her orders. Nygard was due to be sentenced on the contempt finding, but failed to show two weeks ago, last week and again on Monday.

Save the Bays -- which has been fighting the fashion designer -- has claimed Nygard almost doubled the size of his property, from 3.25 acres in 1984 to 6.1 acres in 2012, by illegally dredging the nearby sea bed and constructing ocean walls to limit water flow and increase beachfront.

Jay Prober, a Canadian attorney who represents Nygard, said lawyers for the 77-year-old have already appealed the bench warrant order.

“It was grossly unfair and totally unnecessary,” Prober said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “He fully intended to appear in court in the Bahamas.”

Nygard was unable to go because of a medical condition, Prober said. He said his client was taken to a hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Friday after feeling dizzy during a flight and worried he might be having a stroke.

A doctor in the Bahamas filed an affidavit indicating that it could be fatal for Nygard to travel at this time. “Given the serious condition of Mr. Nygard, he should not travel to expose himself to additional medical dangers," Lynwood Brown wrote in the affadavit, which also included pictures of Nygard being examined in what appeared to be a hospital room.

Nygard was willing to appear by video from Winnipeg, Prober said.

“There was no basis for a warrant to issue in civil proceedings like this,” Prober said. “This judge didn’t even have jurisdiction to do this.”

Decade-Old Battle

Nygard and Bacon have battled for more than a decade, suing and countersuing in courts in the Bahamas and Manhattan. Nygard has claimed that Bacon wants to drive him off his property.

A spokesman for Bacon declined to comment on the arrest warrant.

Nygard’s property was seized by the Bahamian court in September for his failure to pay more than $3 million in legal fees to Save the Bays. Prober told the Toronto-based National Post newspaper that Nygard paid the fines in November and the property was returned to him.

Nygard, born in Finland, founded Nygard International in 1967. The maker of women’s wear has expanded to more than 170 dedicated stores in North America, according to its website.

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