In January 2010 when the island of Haiti was rocked by a devastating 7.0 earthquake, Wyclef Jean was one of the first to rally to aid the people of his native Haiti. Through his charitable foundation Yele Haiti, Wyclef raised $16 million in donations. However, a recent article in The New York Post found that only $5.1 million went to emergency relief efforts, including food and water delivery to makeshift survivor camps.
Yele Haiti paid five contractors to accomplish its goals, including P&A Construction — which received $353,983 and is run by Warnel Pierre, the brother of Jean’s wife, Claudinette. A purported Miami business called Amisphere Farm Labor Inc. received a whopping $1,008,000 as a “food distributor.” 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.
This isn’t the first time Yele Haiti has been surrounded in controversy, shortly after raising funds for Haiti’s earthquake release reports surfaced that the organization failed to file a required tax form detailing its spending with the IRS in 2008 and that Yele Haiti had steered $250,000 to a Haitian TV station controlled by Wyclef and his cousin Jerry Duplessis.
In a statement issued to the press, Wyclef had this to say about the allegations:
“The percentage of funds used is consistent with NGOs and Not For Profits operating in Haiti at the time. I have acknowledged that Yele has made mistakes in the past, including being late in IRS filings, but that is old news.”
Wyclef resigned as the head of the charity back in 2010 and Yele Haiti has since been taken over by its new director Derek Johnson who is promising change and a “clean slate.” However, for a country where nearly 300,000 people lost their lives, one million were left homeless and the struggle to rebuild is slow and ongoing, change may be a day too late.