Haiti's presidential candidate and hip hop singer Wyclef Jean, center, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Croix de Bouquets, Haiti, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010. Jean says he has received death threats, which is why he is in seclusion until the electoral list is released. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
In the months following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, a charity run by hip-hop star Wyclef Jean spent a pittance of the money it took in on disaster relief and doled out millions in questionable contracts.
Yele Haiti’s coffers swelled to $16 million in 2010, the most the charity had ever received. But less than a third of that went to emergency efforts, and $1 million was paid to a Florida firm that doesn’t seem to exist, The Post has learned.
Jean’s charity, which he founded in 2005 with his cousin Jerry Duplessis, was already troubled when the earthquake struck Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010. The Post reported in 2008 that it had never filed a required tax form detailing its spending with the IRS.
The group lost $244,000 in 2009. But hours after the earthquake hit, Jean took to Twitter to beg for $5 donations. An avalanche of donations poured in.
Almost immediately, allegations surfaced that the former Fugees singer had used the charity’s cash for his own benefit. Critics found that four years earlier Yele Haiti had steered $250,000 to a Haitian TV station controlled by Jean and Duplessis.
Jean held a Jan. 18, 2010, press conference to tearfully defend Yele Haiti’s reputation.
“Have we made mistakes before? Yes,” Jean said. “Did I ever use Yele money for personal benefits? Absolutely not. Yele’s books are open and transparent.