January 17, 2010

Wyclef Jean Responds to Critics of Yele Haiti

Wyclef returned to his native Haiti at the Port-au-Prince airport the day after the thousands upon thousands were killed in a lethal 7.0 earthquake. The entertainer then began clearing the dead bodies of his country’s inhabitants off of the streets. Among other matters, he’s issued a plea to the President, started to plan telethon with George Clooney and continued his tireless lobbying on behalf of the Haitian people.

Unfortunately the entertainer/activist now must contend with allegations of misappropriated funds from his Yéle Haiti Foundation.
"It seems clear that a significant amount of the monies that this charity raises go for costs other than providing benefits to Haitians in need," said Dean Zerbe, national managing director of Alliant Group, a tax services company.
Wyclef responds to his critics in the following video clip:

Hugh Locke, President of Yéle Haiti, countered the notion as well:
"Wyclef Jean, the founder of Yéle Haiti has never profited from his organization. It’s a shame that during this international emergency, we have had to divert resources away from our response efforts to address these allegations. I think people should be very comfortable that any money given to Yele Haiti is going 100 percent to emergency relief."
The Yéle Haiti Foundation had raised over $2 million in contributions, largely through texted donations.

Support Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund

Yéle Haiti provided these 'financial facts' to counter allegations raised by the Alliant Group:

  1. Fact: Yéle Haiti, originally called the Wyclef Jean Foundation, filed a tax return in 2000 and then suspended activities until 2005 and so was not required by law to file a tax return until it resumed operation.

  2. Fact: Yéle Haiti received a clean bill of health in independent external audits conducted in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 by the firm of Tempesta & Farrell

  3. Fact: Yéle Haiti was guided by the firm of Grant Thornton LLP to ensure that all transactions involving board members Wyclef Jean and Jerry Duplessis were conducted to fully comply with both the spirit and letter of the law governing such matters.

  4. Fact: Yéle Haiti offices are located in Platinum Sound, the recording studio owned by Wyclef and Jerry Duplessis in order to save money. The organization pays only $2,600 a month for the space and a shared reception service, instead of considerably more for the same arrangement in midtown Manhattan.

  5. Fact: Wyclef Jean was paid $100,000 in connection with a benefit concert in Monte Carlo in 2006, which was organized by a for-profit organization. The vast majority of that amount went towards costs related to the performance, including the hiring of backing musicians and other costs related to the production.

  6. Fact: Yéle Haiti purchased $250,000 of airtime on the commercial television station Telemax in Haiti that is owned by Wyclef and Jerry. We have documentation allocating the hundreds of hours of Yéle programming, over several years, that addressed a wide range of development and social issues in Haiti.

Villagers must make their own choice about where to donate money in support of Haiti Earthquake Relief. For my part, I'm leaving Yéle Haiti on my list of options that we have to support Haiti.

What say u?

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