Haitian hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean defends his charity

January 18, 2010

wyclefHaitian-born hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean, who is leading fundraising for his earthquake-devastated homeland, rejected on Monday accusations that he had profited from his foundation but admitted mistakes were made.

 The Grammy Award-winner dismissed accusations raised by The Smoking Gun website that he had made money from Yele Haiti, a charity he founded in 2005 to raise awareness of Haiti and run education, sports, arts and environment programs.

 “As a young N.G.O. (nongovernmental organization) … have we made mistakes before? Yes,” Jean said at a news conference in New York. “Did I ever use Yele money for personal benefits? Absolutely not.”

He did not elaborate on what mistakes he believed the organization had made.
 The Smoking Gun on Thursday posted the 2005, 2006 and 2007 tax returns for the Wyclef Jean Foundation, which it said operates as Yele Haiti and showed the charity paid Jean and his business partner at least $410,000 for rent, production services and Jean’s appearance at a benefit concert.

Jean, who also posted a video on YouTube rejecting the accusations, said Yele Haiti’s finances had annually been given “a clean bill of health by an external auditor.”

A texting campaign launched by Jean after the Jan. 12 earthquake killed as many as 200,000 people and left its capital, Port-au-Prince, in ruins has already raised more than $2 million for the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund.

The musician, who carries a Haitian passport and has a U.S. green card, spent three days in Haiti after the earthquake and became emotional after speaking about his time there. He said he plans to return to Haiti on Saturday.

“We carried bodies to the cemetery … My three days in Haiti, for me personally, there’s no words to explain it,” he said. “My people are dying and I have to go back.”

 Jean is also due to join actor George Clooney on Friday for a commerical-free telethon called “Hope for Haiti, which will be broadcast by major U.S. networks.

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So if your pet NGO pays you a $410,000 salary without breaking any laws… what? who cares if you broke the law, Wyclef, the fact is that caritable monies donated to your foundation are presently in your pocket. It’s the same problem the government has down there, they pay salaries first and then don’t have the money to deliver services.

Posted by midwestguy | Report as abusive

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