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THE FAMILY of Jamaat-al-Muslimeen leader Imam Yasin Abu Bakr was able to buy back two of ten properties which the State had seized and publicly auctioned yesterday.
Indrani Maharaj-Abu Bakr, one of the Imam’s four wives, and his son, Ayinde, successfully bid on two properties which were on the auction block yesterday.
Auctioneer Peter Soon supervised the auction, which was held inside the auditorium at City Hall, Port of Spain.
Soon said there was no difficulty with Abu Bakr’s family repurchasing the properties, since according to the terms of the sale “parties are at liberty to bid”.
“If Mr Bakr himself wanted to bid on a property we would have accepted his bid. So if it is okay for him then it must be okay for his family,” Soon said after the auction.
Ten properties, owned by Abu Bakr and his second-in-command Kala Aki Bua, were auctioned yesterday, as the State attempted to recover a $42.3 million debt (including interest) incurred from the destruction of the Police Headquarters during the 1990 attempted coup.
The State raised $5,212,000 at yesterday’s auction. The auction came as a result of a ruling by Justice Rajendra Narine on September 11 last year.
It is now up to the State to determine how to recover the $37 million shortfall, Soon said. The total price of the two properties purchased by the Imam’s wife and son was $2.4 million.
“We anticipated a better turnout. I believe if there were more people present the competition would have pushed the prices higher,” Soon said of the procedure.
Uniformed police officers were stationed at the entrance of City Hall and inside the auditorium.
There were 62 registered bidders at yesterday’s auction, according to registration forms.
Abu Bakr and a group of Jamaat members, dressed in khaki uniforms and black kippahs, formed part of the audience at yesterday’s auction. Abu Bakr left the auction around 11 a.m.
Soon began the auction proceedings by listing the rules and terms of sale for the properties.
“The properties are being sold ‘as is and where is’. So I give no warranty as to title. You buy at your own risk,” Soon told prospective bidders.
At the end of yesterday’s auction only a house and property at La Puerta, Diego Martin, was left unsold. It was being offered for $1.1 million.
Abu Bakr’s son Fuad made a $100,000 bid for the property. It was refused by Soon.
The ten properties which were sold yesterday were bought by five bidders.
The most expensive property to be sold yesterday was a property at Maharaj Lands in Marabella.
Anthony Cherry, a former board member of the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT), purchased the Marabella property for $1.6 million.
Maharaj-Abu Bakr purchased the land at Dibe Road, Long Circular, along with a building housing six apartments located on the property for $1.3 million.
Ayinde Abu Bakr bought an undivided half-share of property and building at #10 Park Avenue Queen’s Park East, Port of Spain, for $1.1 million.
A man named Narine, who refused to give his first name, bought two properties at yesterday’s auction. These included a parcel of land at Lot 5 in Guayaguayare, Mayaro, for $72,000, in addition to land and a house at “Zorro” Las Cuevas for $380,000.
A man named Nagassar, who also refused to give his first name, bought four parcels of land at Rivulet Road, Indian Trail, Couva, for a total of $760,000.
Successful bidders were required to make a ten per cent deposit of their bid yesterday. The balance is expected to be paid in 30 days.
The auction lasted just under four hours and ended at 1.48 p.m.
Abu Bakr remained mum when contacted by the Express yesterday for comment on the auction.
“No comment,” Abu Bakr said.
Contacted an hour after the auction, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, who ordered the auction on the State’s behalf, said he was not in a position to comment on the proceedings, as he was not present. He said, however, that he had staff at the event who were to present a report to him. He said then that he would be in a position to comment after reading the report, but attempts to reach him last evening were unsuccessful as calls to his cell phone went unanswered and he did not return calls or text messages sent to him.