Wyclef Jean might’ve promoted the release of his book, Purpose: An Immigrant‘s Story, with stories of his extramarital affair with Lauryn Hill, but it’s the financial records of his nonprofit Yéle Haiti that appear most scandalous. According to the New York Times, despite having raised $1 million in one day following his home country’s 2010 earthquake, Jean’s organization used most of the funds to finance expenditures like a $100,000 performance fee for Jean himself.
One of the most jaw-dropping findings concerns Yéle’s promise to deliver food to 19 orphanages throughout Haiti. When the Times contacted some of these orphanages, those in charge said they were feeding the children gruel because the food promised by Jean and his charity never appeared.
But from the start Yéle was lax about accounting and tax filing, blurring the boundaries between its founders’ personal and charitable enterprises.
The forensic audit examined $3 million of the charity’s 2005 to 2009 expenses and found $256,580 in illegitimate benefits to Mr. Jean and other Yéle board and staff members as well as improper or potentially improper transactions. These included $24,000 for Mr. Jean’s chauffeur services and $30,763 for a private jet that transported Lindsay Lohan from New Jersey to a benefit in Chicago that raised only $66,000.
The audit considered it appropriate, though, for the charity to pay Mr. Jean $100,000 to perform at a Yéle fund-raiser in Monaco because that was his market rate. It also found it acceptable for Yéle to spend $125,114 on travel and other matters related to a “60 Minutes” report on “Wyclef’s mission to help the people of Haiti and his personal success story” because it appeared to have heightened awareness of Yéle. It was deemed legitimate to have spent $57,927 on private jets to fly Matt Damon and others to Haiti because they gave “substantial contributions” afterward.
Read more at the New York Times.