Bribery scandal involving Cayman Premier still brewing

GEORGETOWN, Cayman Islands, Thursday, November 24, 2011 – The Miami-based corruption watchdog Offshore Alert has suggested that Premier McKeeva Bush could be in line for criminal charges within the first half of next year.

This new development stems from allegations of as yet unexplained “financial irregularities” involving the Premier, which may have occurred in 2004, related to an attempt by U. S.-based property developer Stan Thomas to ensure land re-zoning.

Thomas has been questioned by the local authorities about two payments that he allegedly made to Bush, OffshoreAlert revealed, based on a letter from the Cayman Director for Public Prosecutions asking Thomas to explain why he was allegedly giving money to the then leader of government business possibly regarding the rezoning of land on Seven Mile Beach.

OffshoreAlert has also published two witness statements by local realtor Brian Wight, who was the broker involved in the purchase by Thomas of the Vista Norte land, which was owned at the time by Guillermo Freytag.

In his statements to the police, Wight claimed that he had several telephone conversations with both Bush and Thomas regarding alleged payments made by the Texas-based developer to Bush in connection with the need to rezone the land before it could be developed.

The report also refers to a letter to Thomas, also seen by CNS earlier this year, from DPP Cheryl Richards who asks the developer to explain payments of US$375,000 that he allegedly made to Bush “and/or his firm, Windsor Development Corporation,” in 2004.

The police probe into the premier was exposed when a letter that Bush allegedly faxed to Thomas from his former ministry office in October 2004 was leaked to the press. The letter, which appears to be from McKeeva Bush, asked the Texan forUS $350,000 and Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor eventually confirmed that this letter was the subject of a police investigation into “financial irregularities”.

Although Bush has made very few comments regarding the investigation, other than threatening to sue anyone who accuses him of corruption, the premier has referred to the letter, which is on Windsor Development letterhead, as a real estate bill.

David Marchant, the editor of Offshore Alert, reports that neither Bush nor Thomas, who is based in Atlanta, Georgia, responded to his inquiries.

Thomas no longer owns the Seven Mile Beach property, which includes the Courtyard Marriott site, as it was sold to the Dart Group earlier this year and now forms part of the controversial ForCayman Alliance investment plan.

While Thomas had asked government to move the West Bay Road to allow him to open up the property for the development of a beachfront resort, the previous administration had been reluctant to do so because of local opposition. It is not clear if Thomas had approached the UDP administration with the same request before he sold the land to Dart. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)