Back in 2010, Wyclef Jean came under fire for reports of fraudulent record keeping with his Haitian earthquake charity Yéle. Now, in an in-depth investigation from the New York Times, it appears that Yéle’s financial failings extend much deeper than simply cooking the books.
Reports indicate that much of the millions of dollars raised by Yéle in donations has actually paid for the company’s offices, workers’ salaries, consultants’ fees, travel expenses and legal fees.
A forensic audit of Yéle’s $3 million in expenses between the years of 2005 and 2009 found that a total of $256,580 in illegitimate benefits had been doled out to the ex-Fugees rapper and other board members. Among these expenditures is a whopping $24,000 spent for Wyclef’s chauffeur services and $30,763 spent on a private jet that transported Lindsay Lohan from New Jersey to Chicago for a benefit rally.
In 2010, however, Yéle’s expenses ballooned to $9 million, with half of that amount being dedicated to travel alone. Furthermore, Yéle spent $1.4 million on office expenses, including $37,000 in rental fees for Wyclef’s own recording studio in Manhattan.
At the same time, however, much of the money Yéle actually spent on charitable projects has gone to waste. Nearly $469,000 was spent on the construction of temporary homes, a medical center and a plaza in Cité Soleil, none which came to fruition.
Following the publishing of this report, Clef’s spokesperson Melanie A. Bonvicino responded to the New York Times’ article through his Facebook. She said that Clef and company are working hard to amend any financial issues that were left over following Yéle’s closing this summer.
“At present, my client Wyclef Jean and his legal team are working ‘assiduously’ to resolve any pending issues with respect to Yéle prior to its closing, as Mr. Jean continues his tireless commitment to his ‘beloved’ country by remaining steadfast in his efforts to encourage the global community to join him in supporting ongoing relief efforts in Haiti,” Bonvicino said.
Read the New York Times report for a complete list of Yéle’s fraudulent expenditures.