Redskins President John Kent Cooke, who has lived in Washington for several decades, is leaving the area to make his home in Bermuda.
"I have no reason now to remain in Washington," Cooke said in a statement released yesterday. "I have become a resident of Bermuda, an island my wife and I have visited and enjoyed over the years and where we have always intended to have a home. Our house in Washington will either be rented or sold."
Cooke, who said he is retaining his U.S. citizenship, received permission in April from the Bermuda Office of Immigration to reside on the island for up to a year as long as he does not seek employment there, according to Bermuda officials. Cooke's application came during the same month in which he withdrew his bid to purchase the Redskins.
Located in the western Atlantic about 580 miles east of North Carolina, Bermuda is a British dependency governed by a royal governor and assembly. It has no income tax; the District levies a 9.5 percent income tax.
Cooke, 57, is expected to reap as much as $60 million before taxes on his 10 percent share of the team. Although Cooke would have to pay federal income tax on the windfall, no District taxes would be due as long as he resided in Bermuda for at least 183 days a year, according to tax experts.
"A person moving from the District of Columbia to Bermuda could save significant amounts of money because of the lower taxes," said Jamie di Stefano, a partner with the accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche.
Cooke, who was born in Canada and became an American citizen in 1970, did not respond to questions on the tax issues.
Applicants who apply for residency in Bermuda must provide a bank statement to Bermuda officials verifying that they have "substantial means" and would not be a burden on the government, according to Bermuda officials. The standard application also requires a character reference, medical records, a chest X-ray, a police records check, photos and a fee of $110, according to Bermuda officials.
For the last several years, Cooke lived in a Georgetown townhouse owned by his father's company, Jack Kent Cooke Inc. The elder Cooke died in April 1997 at the age of 84. Cooke later purchased the property from his father's estate.
Cooke's will left his son the interest on $10 million, with another $15 million to be paid out over several years. The elder Cooke also instructed that his estate be liquidated and the proceeds turned over to a foundation for the distribution of postgraduate scholarships.
John Cooke's proceeds from the Redskins sale comes from his 10 percent ownership of his father's holding company. The team's sale price is $800 million; $200 million of that is debt the new owners are assuming for the stadium and team.
Cooke failed in his attempt to purchase the Redskins from his father's estate, having been outbid first by Howard Milstein, who withdrew his offer after it became clear he would not be approved by NFL owners, and then by Snyder.
Snyder's partners are media/real estate mogul Mortimer Zuckerman and businessman Fred Drasner.
Milstein has filed a lawsuit against Cooke and Redskins General Manager Charley Casserly, contending that they worked against Milstein during the NFL approval process. Cooke and Casserly have denied the allegations.