In a revealing exposé, the New York Times gives an account the incredible waste of millions of donated money by Yéle Haiti, the charity founded by Haiti-born rapper Wyclef Jean. The publication calls the now defunct non-profit a cesspool of “debts unfinished projects and broken promises.”
According to their investigation the bulk of the millions raised in donations has barely helped any earthquake victim directly, rather those funds paid for the company’s offices, workers’ salaries, consultants’ fees, travel expenses and food.
A forensic audit of Yéle’s $3 million in expenses between the years of 2005 and 2009 found that a total of $256,580 in illegitimate benefits had been doled out to the ex-Fugees rapper and other board members. Among these expenditures is a whopping $24,000 spent for Wyclef’s chauffeur services and $30,763 spent on a private jet that transported Lindsay Lohan from New Jersey to Chicago for a benefit rally that only raised $66,000.00.
In 2010, however, Yéle’s expenses ballooned to $9 million, with half of that amount being dedicated to travel alone. Furthermore, Yéle spent $1.4 million on office expenses, including $37,000 in rental fees for Wyclef’s own recording studio in Manhattan.
At the same time, however, much of the money Yéle actually spent on charitable projects has gone to waste. Nearly $469,000 was spent on the construction of temporary homes, a medical center and a plaza in Cité Soleil, none which came to fruition.
The piece also revealed that the audit found it acceptable that he paid himself $100,00.00 to perform at a Yéle fundraiser in Monaco because that was his market rate.
Following the publishing of this report, Clef’s spokesperson Melanie A. Bonvicino responded to the New York Times’ article through his Facebook page. She said that Clef and company are working hard to amend any financial issues that were left over following Yéle’s closing this summer:
“At present, my client Wyclef Jean and his legal team are working ‘assiduously’ to resolve any pending issues with respect to Yéle prior to its closing, as Mr. Jean continues his tireless commitment to his ‘beloved’ country by remaining steadfast in his efforts to encourage the global community to join him in supporting ongoing relief efforts in Haiti.”
“Wyclef Jean helped pay for the independent audit of Yele because of his commitment to both the organization and the people of Haiti, and while most of its findings to do not in any way relate to him he is nevertheless commited to ensuring that things are made right,” said his attorney Avi Schick in a statement to the NY Times.
Wyclef brags that he has a $500,00.00 watch yet refuses to settle with the attorney general’s request that he and the two other Yéle founders pay $600,000 in restitution “to remedy the waste of the foundation’s assets.” It also would have required Yéle to pay for a forensic audit of its post-disaster expenses, as it had done for its pre-earthquake finances, and to start “winding down its affairs.”
This is not the first time questions have been raised about the finances of the charity which had only $37,000.00 in assets before the quake. In 2010 Clef was accused of misappropriating funds and even accused of giving the charity’s money to his alleged mistress.
Wyclef is currently making the media rounds promoting his book Purpose:An Immigrant’s Story where he paints quite a different picture of his time as the face of the charity.
This site was one of many that advocated for visitors to give to Yéle after the earthquake. I’m not gonna play naive to the NGO game. Many of these organizations spend a good amount of money on “administration”. Considering that Clef was from the streets of Haiti it’s no surprise that people expected him to really give the people, his people, the money. It’s really sad that someone who had such a prominent platform to really help Haiti, let the opportunity become this much of a farce.
New York times is not the first source to tell me Wyclef is a ginal.
If you want to donate to a transparent charity in Haiti visit CharityNavigator.com and look for those who share there financial info. They do exist. Case in pint Alicia Key’s Keep A Child Alive charity.
Head on over to the New York Times for the complete list of Yéle’s fraudulent expenditures.
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WYCLEF defends Yele Haiti charity