Wyclef Jean Defends Charity in Wake of Questionable Spending Report

Wyclef Jean - P 2011
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The hip-hop star says he's proud of the way his charity responded after the Haitian earthquake amid reports that it used only a third of the $16 million it collected for relief efforts.

Wyclef Jean is defending his charity in the wake of a report that his Yele Haiti Foundation donated less than a third of the $16 million it collected last year to Haitian relief efforts.

The hip-hop star told the Associated Press that he's proud of the way his charity responded after the earthquake almost two years ago.

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He said his charity rebuilt an orphanage and set up a system of outdoor toilet and shower facilities in one of the largest shanties in the Haitian capital.

Jean's comments Sunday follow a report in the New York Post saying his foundation collected $16 million in 2010 but only $5.1 million of that money was actually spent on relief efforts, according to tax records.

Records show that $353,983 was paid to P&A Construction, a contracting company run by Jean's brother-in-law Warnel Pierre. In addition, more than $1 million was paid to Amisphere Farm Labor Inc. as a "food distributor," however, the supposedly Miami-based company does not seem to exist, says the Post. However, the listed head of the organization, Amsterly Pierre purchased three Florida properties in the last year. 

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Millions of people donated to Yele shortly after the 7.0 earthquake that killed between 200,000 and 300,000 Haitians Jan. 12, 2010, and caused a cholera epidemic that is still going on.

This is not the first time the nonprofit organization, which was created by the musician in 2005, has found itself in hot water. The organization was called out for never having filed a tax form in 2008, it also lost $244,000 in 2009. Following the 2010 earthquake, donations poured in, but Jean and Yele were almost immediately accused of misallocating funds. Jean held a press conference Jan. 18, 2010, in an attempt to clear the charity's name.

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"Have we made mistakes before? Yes,” Jean said at the time. “Did I ever use Yele money for personal benefits? Absolutely not. Yele’s books are open and transparent."

Jean and most of Yele's acting board left the organization in the summer of 2010. The musician also abandoned an attempt at running for president in Haiti's November 2010 election.