Less than a third of the $16 million gathered in 2010 by hip-hop star Wyclef Jean for earthquake relief in Haiti actually made it to emergency efforts in the country, the New York Post reported Sunday.
According to the exclusive report, Jean’s charity, Yele Haiti, doled out millions in questionable contracts — in fact, $1 million was paid to a Florida firm that doesn’t seem to exist.
The Post also reported that a company called P&A Construction – which is run by Warnel Pierre, Jean’s brother-in-law — received $353,983 from the group.
Founded in 2005 with his cousin Jerry Duplessis, Jean’s charity was troubled before Haiti’s disastrous January 2010 earthquake struck. In 2008, it was revealed that the organization had never filed required tax forms detailing its spending to the IRS.
The charity lost $244,000 in 2009. But almost immediately after the Jan. 12, 2010 quake, Jean took to Twitter asking for $5 donations, which quickly rolled in.
Soon after, it was reported that Yele Haiti had given $250,000 to a Haitian TV station controlled by Jean and Duplessis.
“Have we made mistakes before? Yes,” said a tearful Jean, a former Haitian presidential candidate, holding a January 2010 press conference to defend his charity against that charge. “Did I ever use Yele money for personal benefits? Absolutely not. Yele’s books are open and transparent.”
In a report by Jacqueline Charles in The Miami Herald today, Jean says that the article in the New York Post is “misleading, deceptive and incomplete.”
“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 written statement. “We made decisions that enabled us to provide emergency assistance in the midst of chaos and we stand by those decisions.”
“The Post never highlights that Amisphere Farm Labor was responsible for preparing and delivering close to 100,000 meals,’’ Jean says.
This is not the first time Jean’s charity has been scrutinized for its finances, or spending. Immediately after the quake, the charity faced a whirlwind of controversy.
On Sunday, Jean defended the charity saying that Yele “used construction funds to rebuild an orphanage; build a temporary assistance facility, and construct a system of outdoor toilet and shower facilities in Cite Soleil.”