16 Nov 2011

American investor says he was victim of extortion by Fiji officials

2:38 pm on 16 November 2011

An American businessman and plantation owner in Fiji says he has been the victim of extortion by officials at Fiji's Biosecurity Authority.

Ken Honig says he was forced last week to pay 22,000 US dollars to the authority's CEO and legal officer in order to leave the country after he was earlier accused of importing a species of iguana into Fiji.

Mr Honig says he was able to leave Fiji on Friday after the High Court issued an order for his release.

He says earlier in the week he received two calls within the hour from the officials at the Authority who he says told him his problems would go away if he paid money.

"It's not the kind of phone call where you negotiate. You're kind of told what the situation is ... you say ... okay and you hang up. It's a stunning ... it's a dumbfounding type of phone call."

Ken Honig says the affair stems from a vendetta by a former employee and two police searches found no evidence of iguana on his property.

Mr Honig is now in the United States and says he is investigating taking further legal action.