Haitian-born hip-hop star Wyclef Jean has launched a vigorous defense of his foundation, the Wyclef Jean Foundation, also known as Yéle Haiti. The foundation was the subject of criticism over the weekend after the celebrity web site The Smoking Gun published documents indicating that a large part of the foundation's expenses have been payments to organizations owned by Jean and his business partner.
"Let me be clear,"he said in a statement. "I denounce any allegation that I have ever profited personally through my work with Yéle Haiti. These baseless attacks are simply not true."
The 37-year-old Grammy winner , who arrived in Haiti Friday, said that he had spent significant amounts of his own money to support Yéle Haiti and other organizations over the years.
Yéle Haiti has been soliciting $5 donations by texting "Yele" to 501501. The foundation has raised $2 million and plans to distribute relief suppliers via a Fedex plane next week.
"My commitment to Haiti is a unique and everlasting bond," he said in a statement, "I formalized that commitment when I formed my first foundation, in 1994. From that day forward, I have spent tireless hours working on behalf of my homeland on development issues as well as human and immigrant rights. I have been committed to helping the people of Haiti throughout my life, and that commitment will continue until the day I die."
Jean questioned the timing of the attacks. "It is impossible for me to even comprehend the recent attacks on my character and the integrity of my foundation, Yéle Haiti," he said. "The fact that these attacks come as we are mobilized to meet the greatest human tragedy in the history of Haiti only serves to perplex me even further."
Jean was also involved in an unsuccessful effort to rescue a young protégé, rapper Jimmy O, who was trapped in a car under concrete slabs (photo).
He issued a video version of his statement here.