Wyclef Jean defends charity
WYCLEF Jean, the hip-hop musician, relief worker, and one-time Haitian Presidential candidate, has robustly defended his personal charity against allegations of misspending millions of dollars that were donated in the aftermath of last year's earthquake.
The singer said that a New York Post article questioning what it called the "dubious" finances of his aid agency, Yele, was "misleading, deceptive, and incomplete". Regarding suggestions that the organisation "squandered" its resources, he insisted "nothing could be further from the truth".
Mr Jean, who was born in Haiti and achieved fame in the mid-1990s with The Fugees, was responding to a report published by the newspaper on Sunday, which revealed that just under a third of the $16m that Yele raised following the 2010 disaster has so far been spent on emergency relief. Citing recent tax filings, the Post claimed that in 2010 the charity paid $350,000 to a construction company run by Mr Jean's brother-in-law, Warnel Pierre. Another $1m was paid to a Florida-based firm called Amisphere Farm Labor, owned by one Amsterly Pierre, which does not appear to currently exist.
Mr Jean insisted that both companies carried out legitimate work. The construction firm built an orphanage and sanitary facilities in CitE Soleil, one of the biggest slums in Port-au-Prince. Amisphere, meanwhile, prepared and delivered about 100,000 meals to victims of the earthquake.
He said he "stood by" the payments to the two firms, saying they were made at a "chaotic" time when lives depended on speedy disaster response. The percentage of funds so far used for aid work by Yele was "consistent with NGOs and Not For Profits operating in Haiti at the time".
In the aftermath of the January 2010 disaster, in which 200,000 Haitians died, Jean used Twitter to appeal for $5 donations, raising millions of dollars. But he soon issued a tearful apology, via YouTube, for the way that money was being spent.