The youngest daughter of a late liquor billionaire, who grew up in Kenya and the UK, has been arrested over alleged connections to controversial “self-help” group Nxivm and its leader Keith Raniere,
39-year-old Seagram heiress Clare Bronfman surrendered to the FBI and pleaded not guilty to racketeering charges in New York on Tuesday. She is accused in an indictment of taking a number of steps to help NXIVM’s founder and leader, Keith Raniere, control members of the upstate New York group, including identity theft, interception of electronic communications and money laundering.
Bronfman posted $100 million (£76 million) bail and was allowed to walk free from court after agreeing to wear an ankle monitoring bracelet.
US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis set the high amount after prosecutors said Bronfman was a flight risk and hearing she has a net worth of roughly 200 million dollars (£152 million), including a stake in an island resort in Fiji.
Clare’s mother is Rita Webb, the British-born second wife of Edgar Bronfman Sr. After divorcing in 1983, the pair remarried shortly after Clare’s birth.
When Edgar and Rita divorced for the second time, the family was split, with the girls living with their mother in England and Kenya while their father remained in the United States.
Rita is now known as Georgiana Bronfman, and in 2007 she married British actor Nigel Havers, making Clare the actor’s step-daughter.
A statement released by US attorney Richard Donoghue, said Clare Bronfman was part of an “inner circle” of loyalists who “committed a broad range of serious crimes from identity theft and obstruction of justice to sex trafficking, all to promote and protect Raniere and NXIVM”.
Susan Necheles, a lawyer for Bronfman, called the charges “the result of government overreaching and charging an individual with crimes just because the government disagrees with some beliefs taught by NXIVM and held by Clare”.
“We are confident that Clare will be exonerated,” she added.