For years, conscious rap superstar Wyclef Jean has been a staunch supporter of his native country of Haiti. But in a new report by The New York Post, Jean and some of his family members have been accused of profiting from the millions of dollars earned by his Haiti relief charity organization, Yele Haiti, for earthquake disaster relief last year.
Jean founded the charity in 2005 with his cousin, Jerry Duplessis, in an effort to bring relief to the struggling country. On Jan. 12, 2010, Haiti was hit by a devastating earthquake that killed between 200,000 and 300,000 Haitians and left a million homeless. Shortly afterwards, Yele Haiti began a campaign to raise funds for the country, eventually earning $16 million in 2010.
But according to the article, a review of Yele Haiti’s tax filings shows that they only spent $5.1 million on emergency relief efforts. Instead Yele Haiti allegedly paid money to five contractors to accomplish its relief efforts, including P&A construction, a company run by Warnel Pierre, the brother of Jean’s wife, Claudinette, which received $353,983 from the charity.
YeleHaitialso allegedly gave $1,008,000 to a purported “food distributor,” Miami-based Amisphere Farm Labor Inc., which may or may not exist.
Another company Yele Haiti allegedly gave money to was Samosa SA, a “bulk water supplier” based in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince that received $577,185. However, some of the money seems to have been used to rent a house for for Yele Haiti volunteers on Samosa’s property at the inflated price of $35,000 a month.
This isn’t the first time that Yele Haiti has been accused of bad business dealings. In 2008, it was reported that the charity failed to file a required tax form detailing its spending with the IRS. And in 2009, the group lost $244,000, causing many to question Yele Haiti’s initial relief efforts after the earthquake hit.
“Have we made mistakes before? Yes,” Jean said tearfully at a press conference in January 2010. “Did I ever use Yele money for personal benefits? Absolutely not. Yele’s books are open and transparent.”
Now that new accusations have surfaced, Jean is once again defending his charity, saying in a exclusive statement to AllHipHop that he neither he nor his family members profited from its earnings.
“I started Yele in 2005 because I wanted to help people that were helpless in my home country of Haiti. People who didn’t have a voice, people who didn’t have resources, people who had mostly been forgotten. Since Yele launched six years ago we have helped close to half a million people. I will always love and serve the Haitian people until the day I die.
The NY Post piece entitled, ‘Questions Dog Wyclef’s Haiti Fund’ is misleading, deceptive and incomplete. The Post conveniently fails to acknowledge that the decisions that Yele made were a response to one of the world’s most catastrophic natural disasters in modern history and required an immediate humanitarian response.
There were no roads, no clean water, no sanitation, no banks, no electricity, no infrastructure. Immediate decisions were made to save lives and alleviate suffering. We made decisions that enabled us to provide emergency assistance in the midst of chaos and we stand by those decisions. We did the best we could with the available resources. I am proud of the way that Yele handled the crisis on the ground in 2010. We were able to feed, clothe, provide medical assistance and shelter for more than 250 thousand people in need.
What the article doesn’t say is that the construction projects funded by Yele Haiti were responsible for rebuilding an orphanage, building a temporary assistance facility, and had constructed a system of out door toilet and shower facilities in Cite Soliel one of the largest slums in Port-au-Prince.
The Post never highlights that Amisphere Farm Labor was responsible for preparing and delivering close to 100,000 meals.
The Samosa SA property referenced by The Post was located in the vicinity of the largest tent camps in Port-au-Prince. Yele chose that location because it was closest to the people it needed serve,” said Jean.
Jean isn’t the only celebrity that has been accused of shady business dealings. Here are five other celebs that have been accused of bad business. – nicholas robinson