#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2009-12-27

Saturday, January 2, 2010

International con artist supports Bainimarama


Peter Foster has been imprisoned for financial crimes on three continents, and you'll also remember him for becoming embroiled in the political intrigues of Fiji. He's made and lost a fortune selling slimming products deemed to be bogus, and he developed a reputation as the world's greatest living con man. 

Radio Australia's Monica Attard recently spoke to Peter Foster for a summer radio special, and asked him why he became interested in Fiji.

Peter Foster: Well, I suppose I've been going there since I was four or five years of age, so it has always been a happy place for me. It's a place of childhood memories, of laughter and frolicking in the water and time that I think we all look fondly back on our childhood ...

Monica Attard: Now the extremely cynical, Peter, I'm going to tell you right now, will say that you like Fiji cause it's small, it's tucked away, it's relatively naive, there are 800,000 people there who when you first started meddling in business there might not have heard of you, that it was just there for the taking.

Peter Foster: Yep. Well, what can you say to them? I know what's in my heart, the Fijians know. You know, we have a track record there of 30 years, it's well documented. Sure, people are going to be cynical - let them be.

Monica Attard: Okay, now instead of leading a kind of quiet island life you became involved in the corruption in the political intrigue of Fiji between the years 2001 and 2007, and you got badly burnt trying to operate in that society. Why did you decide to become involved in the political processes there? Funding the new Labor Party to the tune of one million dollars, secretly filming government officials - why all of that?

Peter Foster: I suppose it was a battle of good versus evil, it's as simple as that. I'm very concerned about what's happened in Fiji. I was very concerned about the previous government, I was concerned about the Howard government, how they facilitated the rigging of the 2006 election ... and with police assistance the ballot boxes were rigged and the elections were rigged. And then we have a chap called Frank Bainimarama who's come along and I believe for all the right reasons has removed a very corrupt, very dangerous government.

Monica Attard: So in the meantime of course the world shuns him, don't they, Commodore Bainimarama? And you're not a lone voice in defending him; he is, in fact according to you, Fiji's best hope in tackling endemic corruption. Why do you think that?

Peter Foster: He's a very honest man and that's the thing that people are failing to realise. At the height of the George Speight coup in 2000, he was offered the prime ministership and he knocked it back. He was nearly killed, you've got to understand that the people that were there previously were the most horrific, unattractive, dishonest bunch of politicians you could ever come across. I understand everyone says you cannot remove a democratically elected government through a military coup. Of course I understand that. However there isn't a thinking man, woman or child in the world today who wouldn't understand if the military regime in Zimbabwe had stood up and got rid of Mugabe. And I'm using the same analogy.

We had to remove the Qarase government; they were corrupt to the core and what I find insidious is how the Howard government turned a blind eye and then tried to actually assist Qarase by putting three warships inside Fijian waters, by turning a blind eye to the rigging of the ballot boxes.


And then of course when I came out with this evidence, what do we find? We found the AFP Commissioner Keelty, we had Alexander Downer, everybody was shooting the messenger. They were saying, well you know, why is he relying upon a con man? Why is he relying upon Peter Foster? Instead of for a moment, just saying 'Well look, these are serious allegations, let's investigate them', they shot them down within minutes of them coming out, and I found that most disturbing. For example, the AFP used that old chestnut saying 'well Foster, you know, he has been charged with inducing witnesses to give false testimony'.

Monica Attard: So why did they turn against you when you had co-operated with them in the past as an undercover drug operative in the 1990s?

Peter Foster: I don't know, really it's one of the great mysteries. I mean that old chestnut about me, my conviction was in '93, but in '94 and '97 I worked for the AFP and went undercover for them.

Monica Attard: So are you still in contact with Bainimarama?

Peter Foster: I'm hoping to speak with him, but it has been very difficult getting any communications through to him, like a lot of people, they just struggle to be able to talk to him. But I am hoping to get the opportunity.

Monica Attard: And why do you want to be in contact with him?

Peter Foster: I believe in what he's doing, I believe that he is misunderstood, he's had terrible PR. But he is trying to bring about change in Fiji which is necessary.

Monica Attard: Do you think he should hold elections?

Peter Foster: Not at the moment, no. Because I believe that the election process over there, the rules need to be changed. They are, you know, on racist lines that just simply won't work.

Monica Attard: Don't you think it's a real shame that while you have the ability to use your notoriety to bring attention to Fiji's problems, like you are right now, that really at the end of the day, you can't be taken seriously because of your chequered past?

Peter Foster: This is why I said at the time ... I worked for Fiji military intelligence and I wore listening devices and I had these tiny little video cameras on me and I videoed three top people who said that the elections were rigged. And when we came out with this, I said "I don't expect anybody for one minute to believe one word Peter Foster says, I'm just a silly bugger who wore the video camera and listening device. Listen to what they say".

Monica Attard: The AFP says it doesn't believe your footage, it doesn't believe those tapes.

Peter Foster: Oh, they're trying to say it's staged. Now while the silly old United Nation inspectors are being led around like only Fijians can lead the white man around, whilst they're over looking in one constituency at the ballot boxes, you know, the Fijians, like stealing coconuts, are changing it at the other end.
It needed a clean-up and the clean-up has come in the form of a military takeover.