A treasure hunting captain has told how conman Peter Foster was lowered in a dinghy from a ship to complete his audacious escape from Fiji seven years ago.

A sea captain has described how infamous conman Peter Foster was lowered over the side of an old navy minesweeper during his escape to Vanuatu.

Kell Walker has given an eyewitness account of how Foster, who’s once again on the run, fled from authorities in Fiji to Vanuatu in 2007.

Captain Walker, who was in the South Pacific as part of a planned $60 million salvage operation for sunken treasure, said he was shocked to wake one morning and find Foster onboard the converted minesweeper, Retriever 1.

“I knew nothing about it … I was absolutely surprised,” he told AAP on Wednesday, adding he watched Foster being lowered over the side in a dinghy to make his way to shore.

“They picked him up while I was asleep. I didn’t know about it.”

Reports at the time quoted locals saying Foster waded ashore in his underwear, carrying his belongings in a plastic bag held above his head.

Capt Walker was charged with aiding and abetting Foster at the time but was later cleared.

He claims his former employer Michael Hatcher was paid $50,000 to help Foster carry out his audacious escape plan.

He’s now suing Mr Hatcher in the Federal Court in Brisbane for $17 million he says he’s owed over the failed salvage operation.

He appeared in court for a brief hearing on Wednesday and will return next week.

The account of Foster’s escape comes as the conman is once again at large.

He was sentenced by the Federal Court last year, in absentia, to three years’ jail for breaching orders banning him from the weight loss industry. Most recently, he’s claimed he is in Fiji.

Interpol has issued an alert for his arrest. He’s been jailed in several countries, mostly for fraud.

In 2006, while in Fiji, he leapt from a bridge in his underpants as he tried to evade local police hunting him over a range of alleged crimes.

They included allegations that he had fraudulently obtained loans from the island nation of Micronesia, had tried to discredit the developer of a rival Fiji resort, and had committed immigration violations.

Foster was ultimately charged with forging documents about his criminal history in order to obtain a work permit in Fiji, but he was soon on the run again , checking out of the swanky hotel where he’d been ordered to stay under 24-hour police guard.

He then fled to Vanuatu.