After Wyclef’s YELE Haiti was recently thrown under the radar for misappropriating funds, Hugh Locke, President of Yéle Haiti made the following statement early last Saturday morning:
“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,” Locke said.
Locke also told the Post, “I think people should be very comfortable that any money given to Yele Haiti is going 100 percent to emergency relief.” He also stated that Wyclef’s status in Haiti gives them more access to those that truly need the money…
Furthermore, Locke stated that the organization has used monies raised for scholarships, a soccer team, various educational trips, employs natives and also established a food program that distributed supplies after a 2008 hurricane.
The Smoking Gun reports Yele Haiti Foundation has only has only filed tax returns for three years of its 12 year existence (2005, 2006 and 2007).
A $31,200 rent payment was also made in 2007 to Platinum Sound. The rent, tax returns assure, “is priced below market value.” The recording studio also was paid $100,000 in 2006 for the “musical performance services of Wyclef Jean at a benefit concert.” That six-figure payout, the tax return noted, “was substantially less than market value.” The return, of course, does not address why Jean needed to be paid to perform at his own charity’s fundraiser. But the largest 2006 payout–a whopping $250,000–went to Telemax, S.A., a for-profit Haiti company in which Jean and Duplessis were said to “own a controlling interest.”
At press time, the Yéle Haiti Foundation had raised over $2 million in contributions, largely through texted donations. Locke, through Yéle Haiti’s PR company, sent AllHipHop.com a list of “Financial Facts,” which can be seen below:
- 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.
- 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, P.C..
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
PSA: I know I’m late with this but I feel inclined to publish it anyway!