Wyclef Jean’s Haiti charity accused of misusing donations

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, November 28, 2011 11:11 EDT
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Musician Wyclef Jean in Poland on June 25, 2011. Photo: Flickr user DrabikPany.
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A Haitian charity set up by musician Wyclef Jean has long been dogged by allegations of corruption and misused funds, but the latest revelations against them seemingly threaten to bury their credibility for good.

The group, Yele Haiti, took in over $16 million in the wake of the massive earthquake that killed around 316,000, according to local officials. But despite the massive influx of charitable donations, approximately one-third of that actually went to Haiti’s quake victims, The New York Post claimed on Sunday.

A full $1 million event went to a company in Florida, Amisphere Farm Labor, Inc., that legally does not exist. The charity also paid $353,983 to a contractor run by Jean’s brother-in-law, the paper noted.

Jean, for his part, has not been a leading member of the Yele Haiti charity since his bid for the country’s presidency in 2010.

“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,” Jean said in a published statement. “We made decisions that enabled us to provide emergency assistance in the midst of chaos and we stand by those decisions.”

He added that Amisphere Farm Labor, Inc. provided “close to 100,000 meals.”

“I have acknowledged that Yele has made mistakes in the past, including being late in IRS filings, but that is old news,” Jean insisted. “When I entered politics last summer, I transitioned from being a board member and chairman of Yele Haiti to a supporter. The new and good news is that Yele under new leadership, despite efforts to undermine its credibility and effectiveness, continues its mission to serve people in need.”

Jean’s popular bid for Haiti’s presidency was brought to a premature end last year when officials determined he was not eligible due to his residency in the U.S.

Photo: Flickr user DrabikPany.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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