Fraudster Foster arrested as he flies back home

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After talking his way out of jail in Vanuatu and promising that his adventures were over, Peter Foster, the Australian conman, returned home last night - and was promptly arrested and charged with money laundering.

Mr Foster, whose one-time friendship with Cherie Blair caused embarrassment for the Prime Minister, was arrested in the Vanuatu capital, Port Vila, after being pursued by police around the South Pacific.

He was sentenced to six weeks in jail for entering the country illegally. He had fled to Vanuatu after skipping bail in Fiji, where he was facing fraud and immigration charges.

Rather than go to prison, though, Mr Foster spent last weekend in a luxury hotel. Yesterday he boasted that, having spent three weeks in a police cell, he had persuaded officials to let him off the remainder, after taking them out for lunch.

"The director of corrective services is a very decent chap," he told Australia's Southern Cross radio from Vanuatu. "With my arresting officer, the three of us went out for lunch for probably longer than was prudent."

Mr Foster, who has served time in four countries, mainly for fraud, said that he was looking forward to completing his memoirs. The former partner of Cherie Blair's friend, Carole Caplin, also joked that he was hoping for a romance with Kylie Minogue, who has just split up with her boyfriend, Olivier Martinez.

He said it would be "an enormous relief" to return home. "I've had so many ups and downs and ins and outs, so my expectations aren't too high in any regard. I'm just waiting to see what happens." What happened was that Australian Federal Police officers were waiting at Brisbane airport. Uncharacteristically, he said nothing to the media. The charge relates to an alleged fraud carried out against the Bank of the Federated States of Micronesia. Police allege that he transferred more than $100,000 (£40,000), fraudulently obtained from the bank, into Australian accounts. He was due to appear before Brisbane magistrates today.

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