oprah faces R2bn lawsuit

Oprah Winfrey is facing a $180million (about R2billion) lawsuit from a man previously accused of trying to extort money from the talkshow host.

Keifer Bonvillain was accused of attempting to gain an equivalent of R16,5million from the media mogul after he allegedly recorded phone conversations between himself and an employee of Winfrey in 2005.

Bonvillain is said to have claimed the content of the recordings could have damaged the media mogul's reputation.

He allegedly e-mailed Winfrey in 2006 informing her of the recordings' existence and the "awful things" they contained - and requested the money to keep quiet, or he would publish the content of the tapes.

Representatives for Winfrey and the FBI began working together in an attempt to catch Bonvillain. He was arrested in 2006 and charged a month later in January 2007.

Bonvillain called the incident a "misunderstanding".

The charges were dropped - on the condition that Bonvillain was monitored for a year, as well as undertaking 50 hours of community service, continual drug testing, forced to attend either school or work regularly and pay for the FBI investigation.

But now Bonvillain is hitting back by claiming that his own reputation was damaged by the claims. He has filed a defamation lawsuit against the media mogul - seeking $180million in damages.

Bonvillain's complaint states: "There was substantial damage done to my name and reputation on a world level. The extent of my damages is vast." - Wenn