In the wake of the massive earthquake that tore an already-troubled Haiti apart in 2010, Wyclef Jean—one of the island’s most successful sons—sprang into action to assist via his Yele Haiti charity.
But what we learned later was that the charity was run disastrously, and was the subject of a huge investigation regarding misuse of donated funds.
According to The New York Times, Yele Haiti essentially (and quietly) shut down last month, leaving a parade of upset creditors and angry would-be recipients in its wake.
The numbers reveal some pretty scathing stuff. Yele Haiti collected over $16 million in donations following the series of earthquakes the decimated the island’s capital city of Port-Au-Prince and ripped much of its already-tenuous infrastructure to shreds.
But the money rarely made it into the hands of those who needed it, instead going to salaries, travel, consultants fees, and eventually to the team dealing with the group’s building legal troubles.
It was merely the latest in a string of problematic economic decisions for the foundation. Since Yele was founded in 2004, the group spent $600,000 on a now-abandoned headquarters, $24,000 on a chauffeur for Clef, and a $100,000 payout to Jean himself to perform at a fundraising event in Monaco. Yele even once spent $30,763 to fly Lindsay Lohan on a private jet from New Jersey to Chicago for an event that only raised $66,000.
The avalanche of wasted donations is pretty staggering, with nearly half of the money Yele brought in going to internal expenses. Conversely, as the Times points out, Sean Penn’s J/P Haitian Relief Organization only spends 10 percent of its intake on operational needs, including office-related charges and travel. (So if you want to contribute to the still-ongoing relief effort in Haiti, lay your money with Penn.)
Jean was once the island nation’s greatest international ambassador, but he now appears to be persona non grata in his birth place. His run for president was disastrous, the dude was shot there last year, and the people who once lionized him now look at Jean as a villain. In an interview with Diaoly Estimé, who runs an orphanage in Haiti, told reporters, “If I had depended on Yéle, these kids would all be dead by now.”