Keith Raniere, the “Vanguard” and leader of the infamous sex-cult NXIVM is behind bars awaiting his October trial on federal felony charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit forced labor. Joining him for their joint trial will be his co-defendant, “Smallville” actress Allison Mack, who is currently out on a $5 million bond and under house arrest at her Mom’s house in California.
Clare Bronfman, the notorious Seagram’s heiress who federal authorities allege is Raniere’s and the sex-slave cult’s chief financier, is still on the loose.
She is likely at the least a subject – and quite probably a target – of the Eastern District of New York’s (EDNY) current grand jury investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the EDNY announced last week that more indictments will likely be forthcoming in about a month to a month and a half.
Bronfman herself is likely as great a flight risk as the old Vanguard himself. When news of the infamous, coerced branding broke in June 2017 at Frankreport.com, members began to flee, en masse, from NXIVM and its subsidiary entities, all of which are operated and controlled by Raniere and Bronfman. Shortly after the New York Times’ Barry Meier’s story was published, federal law enforcement in the EDNY took notice, and began interviewing witnesses. As alleged in Raniere’s federal complaint, Bronfman and Raniere flew together to Mexico after the federal investigation began (possibly making her an accessory after the fact).
Raniere and Bronfman have likely argued, or will argue, that the flight to Mexico was not done to escape or evade law enforcement, but done to assuage the Mexican NXIVM members about the recent bad press, and reassure them the the cult was doing just fine.
This is probably partly true. However, it took law enforcement a month and a half to apprehend Raniere
The EDNY authorities are, in fact, aware that Bronfman owns a private island in Fiji – and that prior to Bronfman and Raniere’s trip to Mexico, 2015 was the last time Raniere had left the country. The feds are also aware that Bronfman has spent up to $65,000 per flight on Raniere, as they have alleged in their complaint.
If Bronfman will spend $65,000 per flight to amuse Raniere, will she spend at least that to save herself from jail and flee to her private island in Fiji, where extradition may not be had? Clare can, in fact, escape the feds to Fiji, and she has the resources to do so. Further, the EDNY U.S. Attorneys office alleged that Raniere “began using encrypted email and stopped using the phone that had been known to law enforcement shortly after the government began interviewing witnesses.” In Mexico, Raniere was reunited with one of his top lieutenants, Emiliano Salinas, the son of the former Mexican President, Carlos Salinas, one of the most powerful figures in Mexico and notoriously corrupt. Raniere likely hoped he could continue to kindle and maintain the cult in Mexico, and tap the powerful Salinas family to avoid extradition. If so, he miscalculated.
Regardless of Salinas, taking these allegations together with the flight to Mexico shortly after the initiation of the FBI investigation strongly suggests the primary purpose of the Bronfman/Raniere flight was to evade law enforcement in the United States.
If Bronfman can escape on her private jet to Wakaya island, the EDNY may never be able to bring her to justice.
Some believe Miss Bronfman purchased land in Fiji as part of a plan for Mr. Raniere and her and select members of his harem to leave the U.S. in the event of imminent prosecution.
Now, Raniere is in the hoosegow, and he, Mack and others will be soon “in the dock.”
But Wakaya perhaps remains an appealing alternative for Bronfman to an indictment and a potential sentence of life in prison.
As to extradition possibilities, Fiji has entered into bilateral agreements on surrender of fugitive offenders with the United States. However, a person can be extradited to the United States only if the offence is a serious crime in Fiji. More importantly, extradition will NOT be approved if one of a number of Fiji officials determines that the offence is a political one, the purpose being to punish the person because of his religion, political opinion, religious, or philosophical teachings, or that surrender may be prejudiced by these considerations.
Any one of a series of officials can put a halt to extradition starting with the Attorney-General. If the Fiji Attorney General denies extradition, then the person will not be extradited. If they authorize extradition, a Magistrate conducts proceedings to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant extradition.
If the Magistrate agrees to extradition, a judge decides if the person is to be extradited.
A judge may deny extradition or decide that instead of extradition he will allow the person to stand trial in Fiji instead of the USA.
A judge may also order the person extradited to the United States for trial only, then be returned to Fiji to serve any sentence the Fiji judge imposes.
The U.S. Department of State, in its Human Rights Report on Fiji, stated that bureaucratic corruption in Fiji is systemic. According to the World Bank’s CORRUPTION AND ANTI-CORRUPTION IN FIJI Enterprise Survey 2009, more than 35 per cent of the firms polled consider corruption as a major constraint for doing business in the country.
The Heritage Foundation reports that Fiji does not have an independent legal system and judicial corruption has become a major challenge to Fiji’s governance structure.
Given Bronfman’s vast resources and ready access to trust fund cash, there is a strong likelihood she can buy her way out of extradition to the U.S.; indeed, she has already bought the island of Wakaya itself.
With indictments to be handed down in the next month or so, will Bronfman be arrested in advance like the Feds did with the flight risk and community menace Raniere? It certainly would seem like the prudent thing to do.