A Bahamian court has slapped Winnipeg fashion magnate Peter Nygard with jail time and fines in the latest development in a long-running legal battle related to alleged dredging activity at his island property.
Nygard was sentenced in absentia in a ruling issued Friday by Supreme Court of the Bahamas Justice Ruth Bowe-Darville.
Bowe-Darville sentenced Nygard to 90 days in jail at the Bahamas Department of Corrections, plus a US$150,000 fine due within seven days of sentencing. Defaulting on the fine payment will result in an extra 30 days in prison, plus a US$5,000 fine for each day the fine is unpaid. The ruling requires Nygard to pay full indemnity costs in the case.
Nygard is also required to make a written apology "giving full and verifiable reasons for his non-appearance" in court Friday.
He's also required to make a written promise to stop using emails that were allegedly stolen from advocacy group Save the Bays, which had previously obtained an injunction preventing those emails from being published. Nygard must pay an additional US$5,000 fine for every day those conditions aren't met.
(A Saturday news release from Save the Bays says the fines are in U.S. dollars.)
The Bahamas issued a warrant for Nygard's arrest in January, after he failed to appear for sentencing on a contempt of court conviction for breaching an injunction that prohibited dredging at Nygard's property in the community of Lyford Cay.
At the time, Nygard's Winnipeg-based lawyer, Jay Prober, said Nygard was too sick to travel to the Bahamas and subsequently appealed the arrest warrant.
Reached for comment Monday, Prober said Nygard's Bahamian legal team is appealing the sentence.
"In my view, it's unfair, it's unreasonable, it's unnecessary and it's unheard of," said Prober. "It's really very excessive... It will be appealed all the way to the (Judicial Committee of the) Privy Council, if necessary, if we don't win in the Bahamian Court of Appeal."
The judge rejected a request from one of Nygard's attorneys to stay Friday's order, according to a report in the local Tribune newspaper.
The case dates back years, after Save the Bays launched a legal challenge against the Winnipeg businessman over what it alleged were illegal dredging activities on his estate in Clifton Bay. Nygard's estate was seized by Bahamian officials in 2018 — a move his legal team decried as an illegal "publicity stunt."
Solomon Israel is a full-time reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press and for two years, the lead writer for Free Press cannabis news site, The Leaf News. He continues to provide coverage of the cannabis beat while covering business in the city and province.
Updated on Monday, November 18, 2019 at 2:37 PM CST: Adds comment from legal team