Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, breaking news, sweepstakes, and more!
Seagrams Heiress And Alleged NXIVM Bankroller Puts Up $13 Million Stake In Private Island To Secure Bail
Clare Bronfman, heiress to part of the Seagrams fortune, is accused of helping NXIVM leader Keith Raniere use a dead person's credit card.
Seagrams heiress and suspected sex-cult honcho Clare Bronfman agreed at a court hearing Friday morning to put up $25 million in cash and a handful of pricey properties —including a stake in a private island in Fiji — as collateral on her $100 million bond, as she faces a slew of racketeering charges in connection to her role in the alleged cult NXIVM, according to court documents.
The bail package includes a $4.2 million property in New York City, a $4 million estate in Ketchum, Idaho, four properties in upstate New York, and a $13 million stake in the privately owned Fijian island of Wakaya, court documents show. Bronfman, her mother, and her brother-in-law, who co-signed the agreement, would lose the cash and all of the properties if she were to skip bail.
Bronfman, 39, is accused of stealing the passwords of people perceived to be enemies of the group in an effort to monitor their communications, as well as helping NXIVM leader Keith Raniere use a dead person’s credit card account, prosecutors said.
Along with five others, including Raniere and “Smallville” actress Allison Mack — who’s accused of being Raniere’s right-hand henchwoman — Bronfman has been indicted on charges including extortion, forced labor, sex trafficking, wire fraud, obstruction of justice, identity theft and harboring of aliens for financial gain.
Bronfman was released Tuesday on $100 million bail — estimated to be half her net worth — and ordered to wear an ankle monitor.
A lawyer for Bronfman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
NXIVM (pronounced nex-ee-um) bills itself as a multi-level self-help organization that provides training in “Executive Success Programs,” but prosecutors allege it functioned more as an exploitative cult, in which members were expected to perform free labor and get branded with a logo that contained the initials of Raniere and Allison Mack, according to the New York Times.
According to the indictment, the organization functioned as a classic pyramid scheme, with lower-level members expected to recruit new members in hopes of gaining power and financial benefits as they rose in the ranks.
But in addition to the exploitative pyramid structure, the inner circle of NXIVM also included a shadowy group known as DOS, or “The Vow,” in which “masters” recruited “slaves,” who were in turn expected to bring in new members to the alleged cult-within-a-cult, prosecutors said.
Raniere, who is known to some of his followers as “The Vanguard,” is accused of using this inner group as a veritable stable of sex slaves, with a rotating group of 15-20 women with whom he would regularly have sex, according to the original complaint against Raniere.
“These women are not permitted to have sexual relationships with anyone but Raniere or to discuss with others their relationship with Raniere,” the complaint alleges.
The group is accused of maintaining discipline by forcing members to divulge embarrassing personal information and taking compromising pictures, according to prosecutors.
Some members of DOS were branded with a logo they were told represented “the elements,” but was actually a stylized version of Raniere and Mack’s initials, according to the complaint.
One alleged victim of the group told the New York Times last year that she disassociated during the ritual, which she said went on for hours and filled the room with the smell of burnt flesh.
NXIVM first gained widespread attention last year, when the New York Times published an expose on allegations of coercive and abusive behavior by higher ranking members, and detailing how DOS operated without the knowledge of lower-ranking NXIVM members.
Raniere, who had fled to Mexico as the heat started to turn up on his organization, was arrested there in March after spending months on the lam and transferred back to custody in the United States, where he’s been held without bail ever since, records show.
[Photo: Getty Images]