(Adds comment from Peter Nygård's lawyer in paragraph 5)
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK Aug 13 A billionaire hedge fund
manager who has sued to stop Canadian fashion designer Peter
Nygård from expanding his Bahamas estate has asked a U.S. court
to help him obtain crucial evidence from a whistleblower to help
with the litigation.
The unusual request by Louis Bacon, founder of Moore Capital
Management LP, expands the conflict that the 71-year-old Nygård
already faces in the Bahamas.
Environmental groups and many residents there have contended
that his property development in the exclusive gated Lyford Cay
community on the west side of New Providence Island may damage
the surrounding ecosystem and beaches.
Bacon outlined his request in filings on Wednesday with the
U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
Richard Good, a lawyer for Nygård, called the request part
of Bacon's "malicious campaign" to illegally obtain the Bahamian
property and "wrongfully continue to damage Mr. Nygård's
businesses and reputation." Nygård will hire a New York lawyer
"with a view" to filing a countersuit in the now 10-year battle,
Nygård, a son of Finnish immigrants, is chairman of Nygård
International, which is based in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Bacon, who said he lives next door to Nygård in the Bahamas,
wants to obtain more than 1,000 hours of footage from Stephen
Feralio, 28, a former personal videographer for Nygård.
According to the filings, Feralio approached Bacon in March
with video evidence of his former boss's activities, but feared
turning over the footage because Nygård might retaliate.
In a court filing, Feralio said this concern was based in
part on published reports about Nygård by the Canadian
Broadcasting Corp and Forbes magazine.
"I am willing to come forward and to turn over the video
evidence in my possession because it is the right thing to do,"
Bacon said he has also been a target of a "smear campaign"
by Nygård, including false accusations linking him to insider
trading, drug trafficking and murder, since Bahamian officials
in 2010 directed the designer to curb his expansion plan.
The environmental group Save the Bays has also been
targeting Nygård in the Bahamas, and according to its website
and published reports, it has drawn support from the actor Sir
Sean Connery, who has property there.
Bacon is a director of Save the Bays, whose board includes
Robert F. Kennedy Jr, a son of the former U.S. attorney general
and New York senator.
To obtain the footage, which Bacon said he hopes to use in
pending environmental and defamation lawsuits in the Bahamas,
Bacon invoked a little-known U.S. law designed to help litigants
obtain evidence for use in foreign litigation.
Bacon's law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher used that law to
convince a Manhattan federal judge in March that Steven
Donziger, a lawyer for Ecuadorean citizens accusing Chevron Corp
of causing damage to the rain forest, employed bribery
and fraud to win a $9.5 billion damages award in Ecuador.
Donziger has denied wrongdoing. He is appealing.
Orin Snyder, a lawyer for Bacon, declined to comment.
Bacon founded New York-based Moore Capital in 1989. He is
now worth $1.6 billion, according to Forbes.
The case is In re: Application of the Coalition to Protect
Clifton Bay and Louis Bacon, U.S. District Court, Southern
District of New York, No. 14-mc-00258.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional
reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Tom Brown and Jan Paschal)