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  •   ethics watch  , atlanta mainstream

    Atlanta developer at center of Cayman Islands payoff probe

     

    By JIM WALLS

    Jan. 5, 2012 — Investigators have reportedly questioned Atlanta’s Stan Thomas about possibly illicit payments tied to development of a proposed Cayman Islands resort.

    Thomas has been in the headlines in recent years for his personal and business relationships with former Gov. Sonny Perdue and the somewhat spectacular collapse of his real-estate empire.

    Cayman premier McKeeva Bush with a former Miss Cayman.

    Now, Royal Cayman police acknowledge they are investigating allegations that Thomas paid Cayman premier McKeeva Bush as much as $375,000 in 2004, according to news reports. In exchange, according to a letter that Bush allegedly faxed to Thomas, the premier made sure Thomas’s 273-acre tract was rezoned to allow a hotel development.

    Thomas, a Newnan-based developer, did not respond this week to messages seeking comment.

    Thomas received multiple messages from Bush asking for payment but indicated he would not pay, according to a witness who told police he had relayed the requests to Thomas. News reports indicate Cayman police have interviewed Thomas about two payments to Bush and/or his business, Windsor Development Corp.

    Details of the investigation have been published by the online journal OffshoreAlert, a paid news service available only to subscribers, and picked up by other Caribbean news outlets.

    OffshoreAlert posted an October 2004 letter faxed to Thomas in which Bush cited completion of the rezoning and told Thomas the bank account where he could send the money:

    I have ensured that all of the proposed re-zoning issues have been agreed and approved by Cabinet. Please (forward) wire the remaining balance of USD $350,000.00 to Windsor Development Corporation Account, as I now need to move forward from this project.

    Bush has reportedly described the letter as a real estate bill but has declined to explain it further.

    Thomas’s real estate broker on the deal, Brian Wight, said Thomas told him earlier that the Cayman premier had held up a vote on the resort rezoning in 2004 while he was off island.

    Wight told Cayman police that Bush called him repeatedly after the rezoning was final. In his first call, which Wight described in an affidavit also posted by OffshoreAlert, he said Bush

    indicated that money was owed to him by Mr. Stan Thomas. I don’t recall him disclosing a figure or for what reason. He came across as quite anxious for a response and I suspect that he called me because he was aware that I had been in contact with Mr. Thomas. … I called Mr. Thomas almost immediately and informed [him] of the call that I had received. He indicated that he was aware that Mr. Bush had been trying to reach him and that he couldn’t meet his request and that he was to communicate with his lawyer. I understood this to mean that Mr. Thomas was unwilling to pay the amount requested more out of principal (sic) than an [in]ability to do so.

    Bush called him five to 10 more times on the same subject, Wight said in the affidavit. The broker said he passed each of the requests on to Thomas, who did not seem pleased but accepted the messages.

    Thomas later sold the property without developing it, according to news reports. Bush remains in office, rejecting calls to step down while the inquiry is under way.

     

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