Wyclef Jean: Yele Haiti Foundation Spending Badly
Wyclef Jean is coming under fire for a recent report that shows his Yele Haiti Foundation has spending practices that did little to help victims of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
The New York Post reports that the 42-year-old rapper-singer’s organization earned $16 million in 2010, as a result of donations given to the company to aid earthquake victims. However, less than a third of the profits went to emergency efforts — just $5.1 million of that money was used for emergency relief efforts — and a Miami, Fla.-based “food distributor” titled Amisphere Farm Labor Inc., which doesn’t seem to exist, received $1,008,000 in funds for services reportedly not linked to helping Haitian victims.
Amsterly Pierre, owner of Amisphere Farm Labor Inc., apparently bought three properties in Florida last year, including a condo in an upscale waterfront community. His business address is actually an auto-repair shop in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood — an employee for the shop revealed that he wasn’t familiar with Pierre nor his company.
The Post also came across shady spending of $577,185 from Yele Haiti to a company called Samosa SA, based out of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The business, labeled as a “bulk water supplier,” used a portion of those funds to rent a home for Yele Haiti volunteers. The cost of the rental home: $35,000 a month.
Wyclef, who once ran in the election for president of Haiti, said he’s proud of the way his charity responded to the earthquake in 2010, and dubbed the Post story “misleading, deceptive and incomplete.”
“The Post conveniently fails to acknowledge that the decisions that Yele made were a response to one of the world’s most catastrophic natural disasters in modern history and required an immediate humanitarian response,” Wyclef said in a statement. “We made decisions that enabled us to provide emergency assistance in the midst of chaos and we stand by those decisions.”
Last year, the Fugees member stepped down from his role as leader of Yele Haiti. Businessman Derek Q. Johnson took over the responsibilities of the foundation while Wyclef went to work on his presidential campaign.
In early 2010, the company was in the spotlight for paying out unusually high salaries to its employees. Zakiya Khatou-Chevassus, who at the time was Wyclef’s personal assistant, Yele Haiti’s vice president and his rumored mistress, earned a whopping $42,000 increase in salary from 2008, bumping her overall annual income to $147,000. The final amount was nearly $15,000 more than the charity’s president.
Watch ‘Wyclef Jean on the Yele Foundation’