26 September 1962 |
|Criminal status||In Jail|
|Parent(s)||Louise Poletti (mother)|
Peter Clarence Foster (born 26 September 1962) is an Australian who has been convicted and jailed on three continents for offences involving weight loss products and property transactions.
- 1 History
- 2 Tea selling
- 3 Cherie Blair controversy
- 4 Fiji 2000–2001
- 5 2002 UK fraud investigation
- 6 Ireland
- 7 Return to Australia
- 8 Fiji 2006
- 9 Vanuatu
- 10 Life in Australia after Fiji
- 11 Autobiography
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Foster began marketing and selling products at an early age of 19 years of age. Nicknamed "Kid Tycoon", the "Milkshake Tycoon" and "The boy with the Midas Touch", Foster was already promoting themed nights at a Gold Coast discothèque two years before he was legally allowed in the club, and became a boxing promoter at 17.
When he was aged 20 he was fined by a court in Australia for attempting to make a fraudulent insurance claim when a boxing match that he was promoting fell through. The following year he was declared bankrupt in Australia after trying to market a product aimed at people who wanted to quit smoking.
Bai Lin Tea
Ali’s third wife, model Veronica Ali, introduced him to Bai Lin, a Chinese diet tea. Foster obtained the rights for Bai Lin Tea for Australia where it was major success; however he was investigated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Despite not being charged with an offence, the product came under intense media scrutiny due to the claim that the product could result in weight loss. Foster expanded to South Africa, England and throughout Europe where he reportedly made over $30 million in the mid-1980s selling the tea, primarily in the United Kingdom.[verification needed]
In marketing the tea, Foster employed prominent people such as model Samantha Fox (whom he was dating), jockey Lester Piggott and Sarah, Duchess of York to endorse the tea and became a major sponsor of Chelsea F.C. in 1987 with the team wearing the Bai Lin Tea logo on their jerseys. He was fined £21,000 in 1994 in the United Kingdom for a trading standards offence over Bai Lin Tea and in 1996 was jailed for breaching laws regarding his distribution of slimming granules. Nine months later he absconded while on day release from open prison and went to Australia, though he was subsequently re-arrested and extradited back to England.
Testing showed Bai Lin Tea to be ordinary black China tea. Samantha Fox had grown distant from him as she later admitted:
I'm old enough now to know that I'd never be taken in again by the likes of Peter Foster. But then, I was 22 and impressionable. My parents had split and here was a man who was clever, manipulative and domineering. I came close to marrying him because I was so vulnerable.
Some time later Foster suggested that he and Fox make a film about their lives, but she sent a refusal via her lawyer.
Chow Low Tea
Following the Bai Lin Tea venture, he subsequently promoted a similar product, Chow Low Tea, in the United States. After publishing an advertisement that claimed that the tea lowered the cholesterol levels of its consumers and placing these in newspapers across the US, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, he was convicted of a trading standards offence and sentenced to four months in prison. Under California law, where he was based, it was an offence to state that a food product could lower cholesterol (Sherman Food and Drug Act).[verification needed]
In September 2000 he was jailed at St Albans Crown Court for using fraudulent documents to obtain credit for a company that sold thigh-reduction cream. The judge said "The sooner you go from the country the better." As Foster had served time on remand he was released and went to Australia.
Foster went on to become a marketer worldwide of lotions and potions, pills and patches sold as health and beauty products. He used celebrity endorsement to promote his brands. He was one of the first to realise the selling power of celebrity.
Cherie Blair controversy
Foster's involvement in the 2002 controversy involving Cherie Blair (sometimes known as "Cheriegate") became known when it was revealed that he was the financial advisor to Blair and assisted her with the purchase of two flats in Bristol. Cherie Blair tried to distance herself from Foster and released a public statement claiming that Foster was not involved with the property deal. The Daily Mail newspaper provided email evidence to the contrary; in one email between Blair and Foster she described him as "a star" and said, "We are on the same wave length, Peter."
Blair went public herself, tearfully reading a prepared statement blaming her "misfortune" on the pressures of running a family and being a mother. Cherie and Tony Blair at one time agreed to be godparents to the yet-to-be born child of Foster and his partner Carole Caplin, who later miscarried. Foster also celebrated Christmas with the Blair family and was a guest at 10 Downing Street on the night of his 40th birthday. Foster later claimed, on his 2004 ABC TV Enough Rope appearance, that he believed his partner was pregnant with Tony Blair's child, the product of a long-standing extramarital affair. However, The Times investigated the claims and found them "a catalogue of errors and inconsistencies" and an "elaborate hoax". Carole Caplin said about Foster's claims: "This is just a new way for Peter to get attention. He is just a fantasist and these absurd stories shouldn't be given any credibility."
Foster claimed he had been accused in the media of being an agent for Israeli intelligence service Mossad. He denied being one in a press statement made during the Cheriegate scandal. He also claimed "No one has ever lost money through my enterprises" and asked "Could it be I had to be discredited by the establishment?" The claim about lost money is disputed by Malcolm Brown who wrote that thousands have lost money.
Complaints to Press Complaints Commission
Following a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission, The Sun newspaper was found guilty of "one of the most serious forms of physical intrusion into privacy" by watchdogs over taped telephone calls involving Foster during the Cheriegate scandal. The press complaints commission condemned the paper for having published transcripts of conversations between him and his mother.
The Press Complaints Commission upheld Foster's case that there was no public interest in publishing the transcripts of the conversations, contrary to the argument of the former editor.
- That the transcripts were edited to distort the meaning of the conversations. The Commission found that there was no evidence of this.
- Foster disputed the paper's claims that he had tried to sell his story to [Granada Television], though the Press Complaints Commission concluded that as he had appeared to try to sell the story any inaccuracy about the company he had tried to sell the story to was not significant.
- The commission concluded that The Sun was entitled under the code to express its view that Foster had tried to "ruin" Tony Blair and that the paper had not breached the code when it had claimed on 17 December that Foster had not told the truth in a statement to the press.
Prior to the parliamentary election of 2001, Foster invested more than F$1 million in the New Labour Unity Party, a group which broke from the Fiji Labour Party (FLP) in May 2001 in the wake of the coup d'état which deposed the FLP-led government in May 2000. Foster said he supported Dr Tupeni Baba, the former Deputy Prime Minister, because he saw him as the "Nelson Mandela of the South Pacific." Describing himself as a "freedom fighter for Fiji", he was concerned that there could be another coup if the FLP leader and former Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, who had been deposed in the 2000 coup, returned to office.
2002 UK fraud investigation
Former business partners including Paul Walsh accused Foster of conning them into investing £150,000 into a company called Renuelle which marketed slimming products. This coincided with the Cheriegate controversy.
Renuelle was also being investigated by the Department of Trade and Industry on the grounds that he was effectively acting as its managing director, despite being barred from holding directorships in the UK for five years in September 2000 as a result of a conviction for using forged documents in an earlier slimming fraud in 1995.
In 2002 Foster was living in Malahide, north of Dublin in Republic of Ireland. He was selling alleged slimming pills called "Trimit" through a company called Bellethos and asking investors to buy franchise rights for €200,000.
Foster was deported from Republic of Ireland to Australia in 2003 because of a two-year prison sentence for fraud imposed in 1996 in Britain. The previous day he had landed at Dublin airport on a flight from Paris and was arrested, then spent the night in Mountjoy Prison.
He had been deported from the UK shortly before after a holiday in France.
The Criminal Assets Bureau began investigating him after Australian authorities started proceedings to freeze his assets as he was suspected of being involved in fraud involving slimming pills. The CAB liaised with the Serious Fraud Office to examine bank accounts to see if Foster owned them.
Return to Australia
Complaints to Australian Press Council
In 2003, Foster complained to the Australian Press Council about articles that appeared in The Courier-Mail on 10, 11 and 12 March. He complained that the articles said he had "fleeced" or "duped" investors. The APC noted that although the Courier-Mail was "extremely tardy" in its response to complaints from Foster, the paper published a clarification on its letters page on 7 October 2003 and agreed to make a note of the clarification on its online copies.
In a second complaint, Foster objected to the same paper referring to him as a "convicted conman" in items published on 4 and 29 July 2003. The Press Council noted that Foster had himself offered evidence of convictions dating back to 1982, resulting in a substantial fine and four separate periods of imprisonment. After complaints to the paper, it published a statement on 6 October 2003 that it had asked its staff to not refer to Foster by that phrase.
Foster made a separate complaint about an article in The Sydney Morning Herald of 22 August 2003 which had referred to him as a "fraudster". He challenged the use of the word using the definition of fraud in the Macquarie Dictionary, but the Press Council found that the word "fraudster" had been used accurately and dismissed his complaint.
Enough Rope interview
Foster appeared on Enough Rope in 2004 and 2007. On the programme he admitted he had been jailed in three different countries, that previously he had been charged with several crimes. He also claimed that he hadn't committed any offences since 1994, though the interviewer mentioned several convictions after that date.
2005 penalties in Australia
2006 Australian appeal dismissal
In 2006 the Full Federal Court dismissed an appeal by Foster against an order restraining his involvement in any business related to weight loss, cosmetic or health industry products or services for five years. The order was because of misleading behaviour about the efficacy of an alleged diet pill TRIMit, the Chaste business genuineness and the concealment of Foster's involvement.
On 25 October 2006, having fallen out with the Qarase government, Foster was arrested by Fiji police. He suffered a head gash and was taken to hospital in Suva. Police attributed the injury to Foster hitting his head on the propeller of a boat, which he disputed, claiming that police had assaulted him. Dr. Ifeireini Waqainabete said that patients with a head injury like Foster's would normally be sent home, but he would stay at the hospital for the weekend as he had nowhere in Suva to stay. He also remarked that Fosters injuries were consistent with the police account.
Foster went on a hunger strike in hospital demanding that the police investigate the brutality of his arrest.
After being released from hospital Foster was handed over to authorities for questioning.
Police wanted to interview him about a range of matters. These included presenting a falsified police clearance certificate to immigration authorities in Fiji to obtain a work permit, obtaining loans from the Federated States of Micronesia using some lease documents from Fiji, and impersonating a rival developer to discredit a resort development at Champagne Beach in the Yasawa Islands.
Foster pleaded not guilty in Suva Magistrates Court on three charges: forgery, uttering forged documents and obtaining a work permit on forged documents. Foster was not granted bail at that stage and was sent to Suva's Korovou Prison for the night, before being released on bail the following day.
The Fiji Times reported on 5 December 2006 that Foster had switched support to Frank Bainimarama following the 2006 Fijian coup d'état after being closely involved with deposed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's political party, the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL), before the election. Foster was also quoted as saying that "corruption in Fiji was out of control". Earlier, deposed Qarase had been quoted by the Fiji Village news service on 26 October as admitting that the then-campaign minister of the ruling (SDL), Jale Baba, had been in contact with Foster prior to the election, but insisted that Baba had acted without the authorization or knowledge of the party. On 21 December, Fiji Village quoted the Britain Times as claiming that Foster had negotiated an agreement with the Fijian Military to expose corruption in the deposed government in return for his own freedom.
It was reported, on 13 December 2006, that Foster could return to jail in Suva after Fiji's Department of Public Prosecutions had applied for him to be remanded in custody. The DPP made the application in response to Mr Foster's bid to have his bail conditions changed so he could move from house arrest at a Suva hotel to his home on Denarau Island, off the coast of Nadi on the western side of Viti Levu, Fiji's largest island.
Foster had tendered an affidavit to the Suva court by former Australian Federal Police (AFP) officer Ian Eriksson that Foster worked as an informant for the AFP during the 1990s. Two other affidavits had been submitted from former solicitors to convince the court that Foster would not be a flight risk if he were allowed to move from house arrest in a Suva hotel back to his home near Nadi, a three-hour drive away.
Foster had concerned Fijian prosecutors by checking out of the hotel where he had been ordered to stay as per his bail conditions. Foster failed to appear in court after leaving Suva's JJ's on the Park hotel, where he had been under house arrest awaiting trial on fraud charges relating to his business dealings in the country in 2006. Foster told The Australian that he had been given permission by the Suva court to return to his rented villa near Nadi in a decision by Fiji police.
On 2 January 2007, the military released what it said was a secretly obtained video of a restaurant conversation between Foster and Navitalai Naisoro, the electoral strategist of the SDL party. Naisoro told Foster that the 2006 elections were rigged, with the full knowledge and cooperation of certain elements of the police. Several Cabinet Ministers were implicated. Ousted Prime Minister Qarase angrily denied the claims. He suggested that the conversation recorded on video could have been staged.
On 11 January 2007 it was reported that police in Vanuatu were looking for Foster. Foster had been under house arrest in Fiji, but failed to appear in a Suva court on 9 January 2007. It was also mentioned that police are searching for him after reports he arrived in the capital Port Vila on a yacht. On 14 January, Foster was arrested in Vanuatu at 5:05 am He appeared in court the next morning on charges related to his illegal entry into the country on 8 December aboard Retriever 1 a former Australian minesweeper. Despite Foster's claim to be ill, a doctor declared that he was well.
On 2 February 2007 Foster was sentenced to six weeks imprisonment on a charge of entering Vanuatu without a valid visa. The sentence was backdated to the date of his arrest and he was fined 120,000 vatu (A$1,400). He was released from jail on 4 February after serving three weeks.
Life in Australia after Fiji
2007 conviction in Australia
In 2007 Foster pleaded guilty to forging documents related to $300,000 that he obtained fraudulently from the National Bank of the Federated States of Micronesia. He was released on parole at the start of May 2009 after serving eighteen months of a four-and-a-half-year sentence.
2009 Australian legal actions
In May 2009 Foster tried taking cases against Associated Newspapers and a former lawyer. Both applications were dismissed by the judge after he found that Foster, who was representing himself, had failed to serve either defendant, thus obliging Foster to pay A$10,000 in costs.
2011 arrest in Australia
On 18 November 2011, Foster was arrested by Australian Federal Police officers and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission officials. It is believed the charges are in relation to diet spray company SensaSlim Australia which is facing charges of misleading and deceptive conduct. The Therapeutic Goods Administration banned the sale of SensaSlim with effect from 1 December 2011 for advertising breaches. He was released on A$125,000 bail in December 2011. The judge noted that Foster had complied with bail conditions since being released in 2009, was close to his sick mother and that she would benefit from him looking after her. He was due to face trial in September 2012.
In September 2012 he claimed in court that his only involvement with Sensaslim was to allow a promotional video to be filmed in his house. He denied being involved with production of the DVD. He was charged with contempt of court after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleged that he had breached a Federal Court order banning him from taking part in the weight-loss industry. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission claimed that Foster went by the name of IMOM or "International Man of Mischief", using the term in a table charting the development of the business and also in his own mobile phone. Foster denied creating the table and claimed that the nickname referred to a former business partner.
2012 legal action
In January 2012, Foster took out a restraining order against Philip Cropper under the Peace and Good Behaviour Act. His solicitor asked the magistrate to regard a summons as having been served after having difficulties serving it, but the magistrate adjourned the matter to February, urging that further attempts should be made to serve the summons. Foster has accused Philip Cropper of attempted blackmail. In June 2012, Foster withdrew his complaints against Cropper.
2013 contempt of court and disappearance
In 2013 the Federal court of Australia imposed a jail sentence of three years on Foster after finding him in contempt of court for breaching court orders by being involved with SensaSlim while still under court orders obtained against him in 2005. He did not turn up for sentencing and was sentenced in absentia.
Despite media reports that he had fled to Fiji, Fijian police denied that they had been asked for help in apprehending him by Australian police. Foster claimed he would be provided with a Fiji protection visa if he could get an outstanding arrest warrant lifted. He has issued an appeal against the jail sentence for contempt. Some Fijians have expressed doubt that Foster would return to Fiji as there he faces charges from 2006 of using false documents to obtain a work permit.
In 2003, The Sun-Herald reported that Foster had sold his memoirs to a British publisher for $1.2 million and that they would be published in eight weeks. As of 2009, the book remained unpublished. Foster announced that he was planning to make a motion picture out of his career provided his original publishers released him from their agreement.
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- [dead link]
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- [dead link]
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- [dead link]
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