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'Blackout' imposed as George W. Bush speaks at Cayman Islands investment conference


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GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands -- Organizers of an investment conference in the Cayman Islands have been forbidden from disclosing any details about a speech by former President George W. Bush in the offshore financial haven, an event spokesman said Thursday.

The keynote speech by the former president was "totally closed to all journalists," and conference organizers were banned from discussing any aspect of it even in general terms, spokesman Dan Kneipp said.

"We've got a complete blackout on discussing the Bush details," Kneipp told The Associated Press.

In an exclusive interview with NBC's Matt Lauer, the former President George W. Bush spoke frankly about alcohol abuse and his decision to quit drinking.

The restrictions were imposed by the former president's staff, he said. Bush was scheduled to speak Thursday evening at The Ritz-Carlton on Grand Cayman Island.

"It's totally their decision," Kneipp said of the decision to close the event to the media.

According to the Cayman Alternative Investment Summit website, Bush was to "offer his thoughts on eight years in the Oval Office, the challenges facing our nation in the 21st century, the power of freedom, and the role of faith."

Members of the Bush family, including George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, are featured in a video presentation at the Republican National Convention.

Sponsors of the conference include KPMG, a company that provides tax advisory services, and Deutsche Bank. It costs $4,000 to attend and other speakers include billionaire Richard Branson.

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Cayman Islands officials are proud of the British territory's role as an offshore finance center. But members of the U.S. Congress and advocates for changes in tax laws have accused corporations and wealthy individuals of using so-called financial havens to improperly avoid taxes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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