James Devaney/WireImage.comWyclef Jean has already defended himself against accusations that his Yele Haiti charity was mismanaged, but a new report suggests that the foundation may have grossly misused the millions of dollars it raised following the 2010 Haiti earthquake. The New York Post reports that of the $16 million Yele Haiti raised in the weeks following the island nation's devastating earthquake, only a third of that went toward relief efforts.
Tax papers reveal that $5.1 million actually went toward helping Haiti, but the rest of the money was either given to shady contracts or unaccounted for. Like the roughly $300,000 that went to P&A Construction to help rebuild Haiti, a company -- P&A Construction -- that is owned by Wyclef's brother's wife. Another half-million was supposed to go to a "bulk water supplier" to aid earthquake victims, but instead that cash went to pay the rent of Yele Haiti volunteers.
Even more suspicious: The million dollars a food distributor called Amisphere Farm Labor Inc. received, even though there's no evidence that Miami-based company even exists.
The address of Amisphere's headquarters is actually an auto-repair shop. However, the Post writes that Amisphere head Amsterly Pierre did buy three upscale condos in Florida last year. Hugh Locke, who ran Yele Haiti in the months following the earthquake, has subsequently fought back against all of the Post's accusations, including Pierre's role.
"Getting food to people who were in makeshift tent camps following the earthquake was a priority. It was particularly important to send in hot meals because people had limited capacity to cook in the camps. With this in mind we approached Amsterly Pierre, a businessman in Haiti who had experience in this field, and asked him to set up the operation on our behalf," Locke told Showbiz 411. "The term 'whopping' should be applied to the impact Mr. Pierre had on Yéle's behalf. Each hot meal fed an average of two people, and the ration kits fed five people for a week — so through Mr. Pierre we were able to feed around 200,000 people at a cost of about $5 per person at a time when food was scarce, hot meals almost unheard of, and delivery of food into the tent camps was regularly causing riots."
Wyclef released his own statement against the charges, calling the Post's story "misleading, deceptive and incomplete." The former Fugees man parted ways with his charity in the summer of 2010, most likely because the Yele Haiti foundation was drawing criticism and he wanted to avoid any controversy that could threatened his failed bid to become Haiti's president. Even before the earthquake, Wyclef was accused of using Yele funds to buy ad time on a TV station Jean already owned.