THE LAND in Freeport allegedly bought for $5 million and sold to the State for $175 million was originally owned by a local businessman who now resides in Barbados.
The purchase of the land, known as Eden Gardens at Calcutta #2 Road, Freeport, was made public by the People's National Movement (PNM) Senator Faris Al-Rawi during his contribution to the budget debate at Tuesday's sitting of the Senate.
Al-Rawi said Cabinet minute 1538 dated June 6, 2012, approved the $175 million purchase. He said the deed of purchase by which the property was bought in 2010 was sold for $5 million.
An on-line search of Eden Gardens revealed that the sale of the land was handled by Samko Realty.
Calls made by the Express to the number of the website, were disconnected.
According to the realty company's website, the company is managed by Ashmead Niamat, who, further on-line searches revealed, resides in the United States.
The website describes Eden Gardens as spanning 50 acres of land between Freeport and Couva, with over 300 freehold residential lots each at least 5,000 square feet of land.
Each lot is priced at $400,000.
The realty company also advertises houses and apartments located in Tobago and Lange Park, Chaguanas.
The website advertises a site plan for the Eden Gardens housing development, with areas reserved for community purpose, and for a nursery/day care.
The Express visited the development yesterday. The housing scheme was developed with a network of paved roads, light poles, fire hydrants and a guard booth.
A Water and Sewage Authority (WASA) plant is also situated within the development.
There are no houses under construction or built in the housing scheme. Instead, the lots are overgrown with bushes with PVC pipes protruding above ground.
Birbal Mantra, a resident who lives near the housing development, said that he kept the bushes trimmed and maintained the land many years ago.
Mantra said the businessman who owned the land inherited it upon the death of his father, who was also a businessman who owned several properties, and a business in Balmain, Couva.