Heiress Clare Bronfman, one of the four more people arrested in connection to the bizarre sex cult NXIVM, may have correctly anticipated such arrests and legal problems. She the majority of Wakaya Island in Fiji as a possible place to escape.
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Bronfman, daughter of the late billionaire philanthropist and former Seagram chairman Edgar Bronfman Sr., and an heiress to the Seagram’s liquor fortune is said to have bought Wakaya Ltd., which owns about 80 percent of Wakaya Island in Fiji on August 11, 2016.
Bronfman is the known financier of the cult’s founder Keith Raniere. Raniere is Bronfman’s acknowledged mentor, and Bronfman is said to have committed a vow of obedience to Raniere as his “slave” and joined his harem.
The Fiji island place is said to be part of the group’s plan to have a place in case they will be compelled to leave the U.S. should prospect of prosecution becomes imminent.
Scenic Wakaya island was previously uninhabited until it was bought by Wakaya Ltd. owners David and Jillian Gilmour in 1973. David Gilmour, who is into gold-mining business, developed the island, building 22 kilometers of roads, a freshwater reservoir, an airstrip, marina, jetty, village, church, gym, school and a runway.
Gilmour also developed the Wakaya Club & Spa, an exclusive resort with ten luxury bungalows with a staff of 300. It also showcases a large private villa and four private beaches. Gilmour also started a business in 2009 called Wakaya Perfection which sources a range of organic wellness products from the island.
Before the deal with Bronfman, Gilmour has already sold 20 percent of the island to private interests. There are about a dozen exclusive homes in the island. From being uninhabited, Wakaya is now home to about 300-600 people.
Part of the sales agreement between Gilmour and Bronfman is said to be that he can retain his other business interests in the island, as well as stay there with his wife if they want to.
It is not clear now that they have been arrested if Bronfman and Raniere planned to hide on Wakaya island. Fiji has an extradition agreement with the U.S. on fugitive offenders, but such agreements have limits. A person can be extradited to the United States only if the offense is considered a serious crime in Fiji.
Extradition will not be approved if one of a number of Fiji officials determines that the offense is a political one. The purpose is to ensure a person is not being punished because of his religion, political opinion, religious, or philosophical teachings, or that surrender may be prejudiced by these considerations.
A judge in Fiji may deny extradition or decide that instead of extradition he will allow the person to stand trial in Fiji instead of the USA.
The US Department of State’s Human Rights Report on Fiji states that bureaucratic corruption in Fiji is systemic.
U.S. prosecutors may have anticipated the possible getaway plans of Raniere and Bronfman since bail request of Raniere has been denied as prosecutors told a federal judge they are worried that Bronfman might finance Raniere’s escape to her private island.
It is not clear if Bronfman will be granted or denied, or if Raniere can still appeal his possible bail. The authorities are now aware of the possibility of Wakaya Island in Fiji being an escape destination for the cult members..