Representatives of carnival mas band in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Tuesday re-elected a convicted fraudster to continue leading their organisation.
Hugh Ragguette beat Sean Steele 18 votes to 6 to remain chairman of the Carnival Mas Bands Association’s triennial conference.
Ragguette has been chairman of the group since the early 2000s.
Ragguette was re-elected although he is under suspended prison sentences for two counts of impersonation, handed down last October. He was fined on two other counts.
He pleaded guilty in October, to the charges, ending a secret criminal career in which he defrauded the United States of America embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados for over 30 years.
Ragguette’s re-election has taken some members of the carnival mas band and the business community by surprise.
“I guess they have confidence in him that he wouldn’t defraud the organisation or they didn’t see the need for change,” one mas band insider told iWitness News after the vote.
“Seriously, I don’t understand how mas bands expect to get the respect of the Vincentian public and people overseas when we allow these things to happen.”
iWitness News understands that at least one traditional sponsor of carnival mas bands has raised questions about the decision, asking how the association expects mas band to secure sponsorship when they have retained as their leader someone who was convicted so recently of such a serious crime.
But person close to the association have also raised questions about Ragguette’s willingness to stand for another term in light of the outcome of the recent criminal proceedings.
“I do not understand how he intended to be president and he is charged, and, even after he was convicted,” one person who is displeased with the decision told iWitness News.
The person also noted that Ragguette continued to represent the CBA as a director of the state-owned Carnival Development Corporation during and after the legal proceedings and will continue to do, now that he has been re-elected.
The full executive of the mas bands association are:
Chairman: Hugh Ragguette
Vice Chairman: Garth Niles
Secretary: Alvern Ali Cadogan
Treasurer: Leroy Rose
P.R.O : Fernando Ceriaux
Asst secretary/treasurer : Alicia Sardine
Band leaders represenative : Kingsley Collis
Committee members: Juanita Alexander, Denrick Woodley, and Verelene Ralph James
On Oct. 13, 2016, Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne imposed on Ragguette a fine of $1,000 on a charge that on Sept. 6, 2011, with intent to defraud the U.S. consular officer in Bridgetown Barbados, he falsely represented himself to be H.V. Prescott, a fictitious person. He was ordered to pay the fine by Nov. 10, 2016, or face 5 months in prison in default of payment.
The Chief Magistrate also imposed a fine of $1,000 on Ragguette on the charge that on Sept. 9, 2011, with intent to defraud the U.S. consular officer in Bridgetown, Barbados, he falsely represented himself to be Mavis E. Johnson, a fictitious person.
He was ordered to pay the fine by Dec. 16 with an alternative prison sentence of five months if he defaults.
Ragguette was also given two nine-month sentences suspended for nine months, on charges that; on July 29, 2013, with intent to defraud the U.S. consular officer in Bridgetown, Barbados, he falsely represented himself to be C.B. Richards, a fictitious person; and on Sept. 8, 2013, with intent to defraud the U.S. consular officer in Bridgetown, Barbados, he falsely represented himself to be Mavis E. Johnson, a fictitious person.