MILITARY ENLISTS ‘CON MAN’S’ HELP AS INFORMANT

MILITARY ENLISTS ‘CON MAN’S’ HELP AS INFORMANT

SUVA. Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 29) – Australian conman Peter Foster has joined the military's "clean-up campaign" to help rid Fiji of corruption.

Foster, jailed in three continents for fraud, is under police and military guard at JJ's on the Park after spending most of yesterday at Queen Elizabeth Barracks, telling all he knows about corruption within the SDL party.

His "evidence" is likely to be part of a brief to be made public by self-appointed president and leader of the December 5 coup, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, on New Year's Day.

Foster has been banned by the army from talking publicly, but in earlier interviews claimed to have been working undercover, securing evidence of corruption.

"I've been wearing a wire and recording conversations with corrupt ministers," he said at that time.

"Some of the corruption is amazing and some of the vote-rigging from the last election goes so deep it's shocking."

Foster said he had taped conversations that proved the SDL rigged the May 2006 general election in 10 urban seats.

"They had the police helping them with the ballot boxes," he said.

"When I asked if they bribed the police, I was told there was no need the police officers were SDL members."

Foster also claimed to have proof that at least nine SDL ministers had taken kickbacks for favours during their terms in office.

He further claimed to have evidence of corruption within Fijian Holdings Ltd and the Native Lands Trust Board.

Late yesterday, Foster was returned by the military to JJs on the Park after a court order was served on the army, ordering it to adhere to his bail conditions that he live at the luxury hotel.

Last Thursday night a group of soldiers took Foster from the hotel and drove him to Denarau, where he stayed with his mother, Louise, at the villa they rent.

It is believed the court order was granted following an application from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, although a spokesman for the office said he had no knowledge of it.

Military spokesman, Major Neumi Leweni, said Fosters custody was a police matter. However he said the military and the police were working in conjunction and, if required, the military would provide security.

Mrs Foster confirmed she had spent Christmas Day with her son, but said soldiers had accompanied them everywhere they went.

"We had lunch at the Westin and dinner at the Sheraton two soldiers were at the next table," she said.

She said her son was tired and stressed from the ongoing court battle and now his involvement with the military.

"He’s had a gutful," she said.

On Wednesday Foster said he was in "military protective custody" and had been told not to talk to the media.

Foster has been on bail, but under 24-hour guard, since October 25 when he was arrested as he was allegedly about to board a boat to leave the country illegally, bound for Tonga.

Police had been chasing him for two weeks, wanting to question him over a smear campaign against a New Zealand resort developer.

He has since been charged on three counts relating to using an allegedly false Queensland Police criminal history to secure a Fiji work permit.

Foster had been staying under police guard at JJs after convincing the court he should not be held in the Korovu prison remand centre as conditions were unfit for human habitation.

About 8pm on Thursday, a group of soldiers took him from JJs on the Park and drove him to his luxury villa at Denarau. This was confirmed by JJs owner, Peter Mazey.

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