with someones else’s money of course.
Wyclef Jean’s Haiti charity a ‘cesspool of fraud and broken promises’ that has collapsed under mountain of debt
By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
PUBLISHED: 19:25 EST, 12 October 2012 | UPDATED: 20:20 EST, 12 October 2012
Under fire: Eight years after singer Wyclef Jean founded the charity Yele, the group closed its doors amid accusations of mishandled funds
Hip hop artist Wyclef Jean started a charity called Yele to help his struggling homeland of Haiti, but eight years later, the group shuttered its doors amid allegations of fraud and mounting debt.
The collapse of the organization once labelled by its founder as Haiti’s ‘greatest asset and ally’ comes after years of accusations of mishandled funds totaling $16million.
The group, which the Haitian-born Jean stated in 2004, was small in its first years of operation, with assets amounting to only $37,000, but according to the New York Times, after the devastating 2010 earthquake, donations started pouring in.
Jean said he raised $1million in 24 hours after issuing a plea for help on Twitter. But rather than using the money to help the millions of displaced residents living on the quake-ravaged streets of Port-au-Prince, the Times reported that Yele funneled a large portion of the funds to pay for ‘offices, salaries, consultants’ fees and travel’ to say nothing of Jean’s family, friends and legal team.
In one case, the group allegedly shelled out $30,763 to fly Hollywood starlet Lindsay Lohan from New Jersey to a charity event in Chicago that raised $66,000.
In another instance, Yele spent nearly $58,000 on private jets to fly actor Matt Damon and Jean’s other celebrity friends to Haiti.
Mishandled: Yele reportedly spent $9million of its $16million on office space, workers’ salaries and food
Celebrity friends: Actors Brad Pitt, left, and Angelina Jolie are asked for a photograph by a participant in the first anniversary party for Yele Haiti in 2006
‘If I had depended on Yele, these kids would all be dead by now,’ says Diaoly Estime, who runs an orphanage in Haiti’s capital.
Following the earthquake, Yele spent $9million of its $16million on office space, workers’ salaries and other expenses.
Broken promises: Yele had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on revitalization and aid projects, but most of them never came to fruition
About $600,000 in donations went toward Yele’s headquarters, which have since been abandoned; another $375,000 was used to cover ‘landscaping’ costs; and more than $470,000 was spent on food and beverages.
The singer, who made an unsuccessful bid for Haiti’s presidency in 2010, reportedly paid himself $100,000 to perform in a charity concert and gave his family over $500,000 for unspecified work. Also, $37,000 was paid by Yele to cover the rent of Jean’s Manhattan studio.
According to The Smoking Gun, the charity also made payments of more than $100,000 to the alleged mistress of the married 42-year-old singer.
As for Yele’s much-hyped revitalization plans, many of them never got off the ground. The group paid $146,000 to build a medical center inside geodesic domes and another $93,000 to erect temporary housing, but neither project was completed.
A New York attorney general’s investigation into Yele’s pre-earthquake activities has already found financial improprieties.
The forensic audit covering the time period between 2005 and 2009 found $256,580 in illegitimate benefits to Jean and other Yéle board and staff members, as well as other improper transactions.
High-priced ticket: Jean’s charity paid $58,000 on private jets to fly Matt Damon (pictured) and other actors to Haiti
Public relations: Wyclef Jean, left, and former U.S. President Bill Clinton, right, aid a woman to raise a sack of rice which was donated by Yele Haiti in Cite Soleil in Port-au-Prince
At the end of August, Derek Q. Johnson, Yele’s chief executive, announced his resignation after Jean rejected a settlement offered by the attorney general that would have required the singer and the two other Yele founders to pay $600,000 in restitution ‘to remedy the waste of the foundation’s assets.’
Actor Sean Penn, who founded his own charity, J/P Haitian Relief Organization, told The New York Times in 2010, ‘My impression is that Yéle is at the service of Wyclef Jean and his reputation.’