Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti Charity Collapses Amid Financial Impropriety Accusations
Wyclef Jean's Yéle Haiti charity is under fire once again.
The organization, which exploded in the aftermath of the 2009 earthquake that wrecked much of the impoverished island nation, shut down this summer while under investigation by the Attorney General of the State of New York; its founders rejected a settlement in which they'd pay over $600,000 each for misuse of the massive funds it collected since it launched in 2005, leading the New York Times to publish details of its dicey financial records.
The Times reports that the organization spent much of its money on "offices, salaries, consultants’ fees and travel," as well as pay for Jean's family, friends and defense attorneys. Between 2005-2009, it spent "$256,580 in illegitimate benefits to Mr. Jean and other Yéle board and staff members as well as improper or potentially improper transactions."
Included was a payout of $24,000 for a car service for the Fugees singer, as well as $30,763 to fly Lindsay Lohan to a fundraiser that raised $66,000.
In 2010, the first big year of fundraising after the earthquake, the group earned $16 million and spent $9 million, half of which, the Times reports, went to office space and salaries. In 2006, Jean demanded $100,000 to perform at a concert for the group. Many vendors, including those providing meals and housing, have received only partial payment, or none at all. Meanwhile, many of Jean's relatives earned pay topping over half a million dollars, for work not completed or specified. The group also bought $250,000 worth of time on a TV station owned by Jean.
Yele has come under criticism a number of times for its seemingly misguided spending; in 2011, the NY Post reported that the group spent only $5.1 million on relief efforts in 2010, giving $1 million to a Florida organization that it says seemingly did not exist. Jean angrily defended the group, though he was no longer affiliated with it, as he resigned to run for president of Haiti. He would be disqualified from the race because he lives in New Jersey.
In 2010, The Smoking Gun posted documents that showed the group made payments of over $100,000 to Jean's alleged mistress