Bush’s real estate ‘bill’ obtained

A third letter to developer Stan Thomas also surfaces

McKeeva Bush lg

The Caymanian Compass has obtained a photocopy of correspondence between Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush and developer Stan Thomas that outlines amounts that were said to be paid and due to Windsor Development Corporation. 

The letter has surfaced nearly a year after it was announced that Premier Bush was under investigation for financial irregularities concerning a land deal and more than 26 months since Governor Duncan Taylor initiated the investigation. 

The letter, dated 21 April, 2004, is on the letterhead of Windsor Development Corporation, Ltd., a real estate company owned by Mr. Bush’s wife that he is involved in, and is signed by Mr. Bush. 

“Dear Mr. Thomas,” the letter begins. “Per our agreement for real estate sales commission on the property on West Bay Road. Please send (wire) to the enclosed address the amount USD 355,000, which is in accordance with the agreement, and the balance of USD 375,000 to be paid before year-end 2004.” 

The letter is shown to be faxed the next day – 22 April, 2004 – from the fax machine in Mr. Bush’s Ministry’s office in the government administration building, indicating that this was a copy made by the recipient. 

The letter appears to have been an evidentiary document in a court case at one time. It is marked “Core Bundle – Page 530” in typed letters in the upper right hand corner. On the bottom of the document, other typed notations apparently for a court case appear to have been added at a later date, including “P. Amended List: Section 4 V “Vista Norte/Vista del Mar” and “349. Letter from W. McKeeva Bush/Windsor Development Corporation Limited to Stanley Thomas”. 

The letter itemises four amounts, including: Total Payable US$750,000; Less Goodwill deposit US$20,000; First Payment US$355,000; and Balance US$375,000. 

The letter gives wire transfer instructions for routing the deposit through J.P. Morgan Chase in New York to an account at the Royal Bank of Canada in Grand Cayman. The account numbers in the Cayman Island have been redacted on the copy of the letter obtained.  

There are several handwritten notations on the letter, apparently made after it was received, including the partially circled word “hold” over a North American-style telephone number, and a drawn line coming from the US$355,000 with an ‘x’ placed next to it. It is unknown who made the notations. 

A subsequent letter from Mr. Bush to Mr. Thomas dated 7 October, 2004, and apparently faxed from Mr. Bush’s ministry office on 15 October, 2004, surfaced last year. In that letter, which also appears to be a copy made by the recipient, Mr. Bush asks Mr. Thomas to wire “the remaining balance of USD 350,000” to Windsor Development’s account.  

Mr. Bush states, “I have ensured that all of the proposed rezoning issues have been agreed and approved by Cabinet.” 

The Caymanian Compass has obtained a photocopy of a second letter from Mr. Bush to Mr. Thomas dated the same day, 7 October, 2004. 

“Dear Stan,” the two-sentence letter begins. “I need to clarify to save any misunderstanding that the bill sent to you today for the West Bay Seven Mile Beach purchase transaction is for consulting fees for work carried out and advice given by Windsor Development Corporation. The rezoning was done before and without Windsor participation.” 

This photocopy is not of a faxed copy, indicating it was a copy made by the sender. However, the copy uses the same type font and contains the same error in the letterhead address as the other letter sent that day. Both show “Box 321 W.B, Grand Cayman” with no full-stop after the ‘B’. 

McKeeva Bush
Mr Bush

24 COMMENTS

  1. I wonder if anyone recently received an invoice for…

    Interdepartmental communications to facilitate the release of recently imported items. 200.00KY

  2. OK, So let see what the opposition make of this. Maybe that Bush violated Cayman laws by sending it from the fax machine in his office or that he stole from the Country by using a government fax machine, he owes us 20 cents and hasn’t paid. Or Maybe they’ll say that the letter is just bogus. I can hear it now, we want an FBI investigation into the typewriter used to create the letter and a handwriting expert to prove it was Bush’s signature and on what date it was actually signed, and what state of mind he was in when signing it. Also that means he’s now the center of four investigations, so he should step down and So on So on So on. Oh wait here’s an better one, Bush just made the letter yesterday and had his cronies at the Court house sign it with the wrong date because you know they are afraid of him. Wait it’s my move not his, he moved his queen before I moved mine so he should be disqualified and forced to step down before I don’t have to run against him. Ops sorry, did I say that out loud.

    And in a final attempt to discredit him, hey Mr Bush why didn’t you share that 375K with the Caymanian people directly, we have a right to a cut of that money.

  3. So does the photocopy without the fax time stamp, that may or may not have ever been sent, mean that benefit of the doubt should be given? Just because the photocopy of the clarification suggesting that the invoice was not in relation to securing the zoning change could have been created long after the fact in order to cover tracks, does not prove that it was. Hopefully Mr. Bush will give a sworn statement to clarify all this as it does not look good.

  4. I’m not in the real estate business, but I believe commissions are paid to the real estate agent by the SELLER for listing and facilitating the sale.

    In this instance it appears that Stan Thomas was the BUYER of the property, so why would he be paying a sales commission?

    Again, it would be helpful if the Compass could provide information on the process from uninvolved third parties to assist their readers who are trying to understand what happened.

    Editor’s note: We would again point out that the only reason any of this is coming out is because of the Compass. If any other ‘uninvolved third parties’ have additional information they are of course free to tell us about it any time.

  5. The correct name of the company is Windsor Development Corporation Ltd which was incorporated in 1997. The fact that the name is incorrect reflects upon the credibility of the owner. He cannot get the name straight!

  6. Right so we have a second letter that appears to be an explanation of the first incriminating one, slightly different from the first in that it doesn’t have a time stamp from a fax machine.

    What I don’t understand is that both these letters were reportedly created the same day (7th) and yet weren’t faxed until the 15th. Why type up an explanation of a letter not yet sent, why not just tear up the first one and do it over and then send it? Or if it was an explanation after the fact you would expect it to be dated after the 15th, no?

    Just get this lot off to the Police (not you Compass guys) this thing is dragging on too long for everyone.

    Several things that can be done, and yes playing amateur detective before anyone comments, ask Stan for the fax – proves it was sent, check the fax records (if they still exist), check the document. Until this is done everyone will continue to believe what they want, supports will take this as fact, detractors will assume it’s fake and everyone else will be left wondering.

  7. To the Editor:

    By uninvolved third party I meant ask CIREBA or one of its members to comment on whether it is a never/rare/common practice for the BUYER to pay a real estate commission to the realtor on real estate transactions in the Cayman Islands.

    Depending on the answer, you may or may not have a story worth pursuing.

  8. As a note, On two different properties I’ve purchased. In order to get the best deal as the buyer I agreed to pay part of the Real Estate Commission. Real estate deals are not set in stone. They are always up for negotiation for the benefit of both parties Seller and Buyer and it’s not unusual for the Buyer to pay part or all of the Commission to close the deal. Especially in situations with the seller doesn’t have much equity in the property.

    I can only expect that the more explanation that come out, the more angry the Anti-Bush click will get. I don’t know the Man nor do I directly support him but, yes he deserves the benefit of the doubt and the right to be innocent until proven guilty, just like any one accused of a crime does. So until I pass judgment on the man because of the rattling’s of people who clearly hate him, I will wait for proven concrete evidence that he has done something wrong. And correct me if I’m wrong but this hasn’t been produced yet.

    People should be careful what they ask for because it may affect the way you are treated if you find yourself in the same situation.

    Next….

  9. Commissions are paid to the real estate agent if there is an agent involved.Also a listing fee is paid to the listing agent. If it is a house listing (being the owners or brokers listing); Brokers have their own clients that come to them directly and in such cases no real estate agent is involved, and no listing fee has to be paid. However, there is still a commission that is required to be paid to the real estate company whether an agent is involved or not.

  10. I can confirm what NJ2Cay says about commission and who pays is somewhat flexible depending on a number of things, but I will say that in all cases I’ve been involved in commission was paid at the closing of the property.

    In other words, this bill is in no way a commission for a property transaction and in fact, in the company of the second document it could be suggested that this invoice is in payment for…

    …the proposed rezoning issues have been agreed and approved by Cabinet.

    That stinks of corruption at the highest levels of Caymans elected government.

  11. now please feel free to correct me but is my interpretation wrong:

    Bush charged a 750,000 fee for re-zoning land, which he actually invoiced for instead of collecting in the normal mannor via a brown envelope.

    Bush then realised he shouldn’t have left a papertrail so sent the other fax.

    Seems pretty simple to me, unless I am missing something? I would imagine that charging a fee for re-zoning land is illegal, hense the fuss.

  12. Bottom line is that this issue needs to be put to bed, and that is the responsibility of the RCIPS. Real estate deals are public so if there is money not accounted for legally it shouldn’t be hard to prove. Bush can say what he wants or produce whatever proof he wants but people are going to speculate and put their own twist on this until the case is closed. Where is the attention and pressure that should be put on the RCIPS to complete this Investigation. That is what would actually be best for the country weather it proves Bush to be guilty or not.

  13. Completely Baffled,

    The revenue base of a real estate company is ‘Commissions’ paid to them by the sellers, it is part of the contract for all sales agreement signed by the owner, the buyer and the seller.

    E.g. Fosters Supermarket’s revenue base is selling groceries and other dry goods.

    Likewise if you own a business you must have a product that earns you money or revenue as we call it.

    Selling Raw land or other real estate generates what we call commissions paid to a real estate company. It is their ONLY source of revenue other than sometimes; additional property leases, or property rentals.

    Anyone having worked in this area I’m sure CIREBA will have to agree with my input.
    Good luck.

  14. NJ2Cay, if the two properties that you paid part of sales commission on as a buyer are in the Cayman Islands then you were actively involved in cheating our government out of revenue.

    We do not pay income tax or property tax because the government collects its revenue through sources such as fees on property transactions.

    If a property sells for 10 million then the real estate agent acting for the seller might collect a 7.5% commission or 750,000 from the seller.

    The buyer has to pay a transfer fee which is also a percentage of 10 million price before the Lands Survey Department will register the property in the name of the new owner.

    Now if the seller and buyer should agree a deal where the seller reduces the price down to 9.25 million and the buyer pays the 750,000 to the real estate agent then they have really just conspired to cheat the government out of their transfer fee on 750,000.

    I believe this is why Lands Survey do their own land valuations which is the basis for their transfer fee, and so I think of no reason why a buyer in Cayman would ever pay a sales commission to a real estate agent.

    This is why I am Completely Baffled as to why McKeeva would send a Per our agreement for real estate sales commission letter to Stan Thomas when there is no indication that Stan Thomas had sold anything.

    There is a strong smell of horse manure here, and NJ2Cay seems to be hoping that there is a pony buried under it. I am not that optimistic.

  15. Re: Completely Baffled’s comment a while back. The questions regarding how a real estate commission gets paid in Cayman will be addressed – along with a number of other issues – in a story that will run in Friday’s newspaper. We don’t want to give anything away just yet, but we believe readers will be very interested in the tale.

  16. Re: questioning the fees paid in commissions.
    Having worked in real estate, I can tell you that
    very high priced properties such as this one starting at one million dollars and up; well usually the % of the sale representing the commission to be paid to the company for the sale is usually anywhere from 1% to 3%, of course its always open to negotiation.

    The figures mentioned above seems to be right on the money, they seem to have negotiated a low percentage commission.Of course because of the high price of the property the commission paid is also a substantial amount. Things could very well turn out that this is an authentic and realistic total commission plus good faith down payment, which would explain the total amount paid to the company.

    The amount paid to the company does indeed appear to represent the reasonable expected % normally paid to the company for their services which includes commissions.I wouldn’t look too strongly at the premier being prosecuted on this particular issue.

    It appears as though he did not do anything illegal here. Not taking sides but it appears that way, lets hope it is really the case.

  17. This investigation may be all for naught and quite embarrassing to those wishing the premier ill.
    The premier did not commit a crime when he simply used
    a fax machine in his office to merely send a fax. It is something everyone practices on the job, because the hours of business is when people can be contacted easily by fax or phone.
    This is classified as an honest mistake.
    With regards to the mention of 350,000 remaining.
    The red flag only started flying because the content of the letter was on government letterhead. Had it been written on his own company’s letterhead there would be no investigation. This too appears to be an honest mistake.
    Regarding Mr. Bush notifying Mr. Thomas of the zoning approval in the same letter of demand for the 350,00, not taking sides or playing lawyer, but this too appears to be a simple lack of oversight and maybe he should have been a little more cautious and perhaps keep some of his own company letterheads in his brief case in case he has to correspond with anyone at a moment’s notice.

    Conclusion:
    The fact the Premier sent a letter on a govt letterhead with content relating to a sale or balance of payment for commissions, does not constitute that he committed a crime!
    He got a bit careless and simply used the wrong letterhead! ITS OBVIOUS unless something else surfaces.
    I hope for his sake I am right. If I am right do not expect any prosecution, it would not be warranted in this case. The negatives are simple and totally irrelevant if it really happened as I stated above; because anyone who understands how the real estate business works would throw this out of court, as a matter of fact, there is no case if the illustration I painted is what really happened.There will be no dancing in the streets by the opposition! Again I sincerely hope I am right for the premier sake.

    Editor’s Note: The letter sent from Mr. Bush to Mr. Thomas was on Windsor Development Corporation Ltd. letterhead, not government letterhead. However, the date stamp made on the received copy showed it was sent from Mr. Bush’s government ministry fax machine. Check back on the caycompass.com Friday to view copies of this an other pertinent correspondence in the matters for which Mr. Bush is being investigated.

  18. Baffled, Great jobs at putting a negative twist on a legitimate deal. The property I brought in Cayman which buy the was nowhere near 10 Million Dollars is actually one that I paid half the commission on. Whether you feel that’s illegal or ripping the government off is your call, feel free to call an investigation against me, Lands and Survey reviewed the contract and had no issues with it. The property was listed, I made an offer which was excepted on the condition that I split the closing costs which included the commission in addition I had to pay for the Valuation which should have been paid for by the seller. Unfortunately he couldn’t afford it .I paid Transfer Duty on what I paid for the property. Show me somewhere where it says that closing costs are a part of the purchase price.

  19. NJ2Cay

    The Lands Survey Dept. in Cayman is the house that WE built…out of 5 years of government employment, I worked there for 3 years of its most important phase of development…and could have had a lifelong career there; I chose another path for myself.

    What I can tell you with absolutely certainty is that the staff at the LS dept. in Cayman are totally incorruptable and immune to political influence.

    And trust me, we’ve been involved in some raging battles with some of Cayman’s most powerful and richest people, government ministers included.

    No politician influences the decisions of the land transactions approved by them; NONE !

    McKeeva Bush himself tried it on with the first Caymanian head of that dept some years ago, in some minor matter…and was told where to get off at very quickly.

    Of course, he, like the spoilt child that he is, went running, bleating and complaining to the press…but…

    Her decision stood.

    If the LS dept approved this deal, rest assured, it was all legal and above board.

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