Did Wyclef Jean use the devastating Haiti earthquake to advance his own financial status? That's what the New York Post is claiming.
The newspaper is reporting that less than a third of the $16 million in donations made to Yele Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake went to relief efforts. The organization reportedly gave $1 million to a Miami-based organization that doesn't exist. Amisphere Farm Labor Inc. was given the money as a "food distributor," though nothing ever came of it and the company isn't properly registered in the state.
"No trace of the company could be found last week in the Sunshine State, but records show the company's head, Amsterly Pierre, bought three properties in Florida last year, including a condo in an upscale waterfront community," the Post reported. The business' address leads to an auto repair shop in Miami's Little Haiti district — and the owner said he's never heard of Pierre or Amisphere Farm Labor.
However, Jean is adamant that none of the funds were misappropriated.
"Have we made mistakes before? Yes," a tearful Jean said in 2010. "Did I ever use Yele money for personal benefits? Absolutely not. Yele's books are open and transparent."
He also heralded his charity's response to the disaster.
"Immediate decisions were made to save lives and alleviate suffering," Jean said. "We made decisions that enabled us to provide emergency assistance in the midst of chaos and we stand by those decisions."
However, not everyone was so convinced.
"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," Dean Zerbe — the former tax counsel to the Senate Finance Committee that oversees non-profits and charities — told The Washington Post last year.
Jean and most of Yele Haiti's board left the organization in the summer of 2010. It's now headed by Derek Johnson.
"It's a clean slate now," Zerbe said.
Image courtesy WENN
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