Property deal explained

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts denied Friday abuse-of-power allegations made by Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush in his National Heroes Day address to the country last week.

Mr. Bush alleged Mr. Tibbetts had used his position to gain preferential treatment from Land Registry with regard to a real estate acquisition he made recently along with fellow George Town MLA Alfonso Wright.

According to Mr. Bush, Mr. Tibbetts and Mr. Wright filed an affidavit to the Lands and Survey Department requesting a restriction be placed over the property. Once the restriction was registered, the former owner was unable to complete a sale on the property for $1.5 million to a third party, and the property was subsequently sold to Mr. Tibbetts and Mr. Wright.

‘How could these two PPM (People’s Progressive Movement) government members ask the Registry to place a restriction to stop a sale, on the basis of an affidavit presumably witnessed by the political assistant of the Minister and purporting to have a third signature which was not there, and with no other evidence?’ Mr. Bush asked in his address.

‘This is blatant abuse of their position as a Minister and MLA of the ruling PPM.’

In a preface to this response to a media question, Mr. Tibbetts said all of Mr. Bush’s assertions were ‘totally untrue.’

Mr. Tibbetts explained that he and Mr. Wright had been in negotiations to purchase the property for several months from the owner, who he referred to as Dr. King.

A verbal agreement had been reached for the sale of the property, and Mr. Tibbetts and Mr. Wright then went about arranging financing for the purchase, Mr. Tibbetts said.

Eventually a contract was produced for signature, but it only allowed four days from when it was received to close the deal, Mr. Tibbetts said.

Before the end of the fourth day, Mr. Tibbetts said they got an e-mail saying the deal was off because someone else had gone to the seller and offered more money than the verbal agreement that had been made.

Mr. Tibbetts said he and Mr. Wright went to their lawyer and explained the situation, and asked if there was anything that could be done about it.

The lawyer suggested trying to put a Caution on the property, Mr. Tibbetts said.

The lawyer drew up an affidavit for Mr. Tibbetts and Mr. Wright to sign, after which they then left the matter in the lawyer’s hands, Mr. Tibbetts said.

The lawyer then made the application for the Caution and based on the facts it contained, the application was granted, Mr. Tibbetts said.

‘Mr. Bush, in his statement, chose to infer that people like myself used my position to gain favours from someone with Land Registry.

‘My name is not McKeeva Bush; it’s Kurt Tibbetts,’ he said. ‘I have never and will never put a civil servant in such a position.’

In the end, Mr. Tibbetts said he and Mr. Wright had to pay $230,000 additional for the property to match the second offer that had been made.

Mr. Tibbetts said that if Dr. King and his lawyer had thought there was no legal right for the Caution to have been placed on the property, they could have questioned it through other means, but they had not done so.

Fellow Cabinet member Arden McLean said he also had a problem with some of Mr. Bush’s other allegations in his address, particularly those concerning the victimisation of civil servants by the PPM government.

‘I have seen no victimisation in the PPM government,’ he said.

Mr. McLean said Mr. Bush needs to understand he no longer runs the country.

‘He needs to realise he’s no longer in favour with the rest of the country and he needs to realise it’s his behaviour that put him there.’

Mr. Tibbetts said the PPM government had nothing to fear from Mr. Bush’s allegations.

‘We have a country to run. This government is not going to be distracted by his antics.’

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now