The mayor of the city of North Miami may have thought Wyclef‘s do-gooder-ness was worthy of recognition last week, but people are stil giving him and his Yele Haiti foundation the side-eye.
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.”
The earthquake killed between 200,000 and 300,000 Haitians and left a million homeless. The country is still in the grip of a cholera epidemic.
For all the desperation, records show that Yele Haiti spent just $5.1 million for emergency relief efforts, including food and water delivery to makeshift survivor camps, according to a review of the charity’s 2010 tax filings, which were obtained by The Post.
Yele Haiti paid five contractors to accomplish its goals, including P&A Construction — which received $353,983 and is run by Warnel Pierre, the brother of Jean’s wife, Claudinette.
A purported Miami business called Amisphere Farm Labor Inc. received a whopping $1,008,000 as a “food distributor.”
No trace of the company could be found last week in the Sunshine State, but records show the company’s head, Amsterly Pierre, bought three properties in Florida last year, including a condo in an upscale waterfront community.
The firm incorporated in August 2008 but never filed any of the subsequent financial paperwork required to do business in Florida, according to the Florida Department of State.
The address listed for the business is an auto-repair shop in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood, where a worker said he had never heard of Pierre or Amisphere. Pierre did not return a call for comment.
Yele Haiti also paid $577,185 to a company called Samosa SA, based in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, as a “bulk water supplier.” But some of that money went to rent a house for Yele Haiti volunteers on Samosa’s property at the inflated price of $35,000 a month.
“Given the fact that Yele Haiti was involved in a swirl of controversy after the earthquake in Haiti, it’s all the more reason to be more transparent to ensure donors that their funds are going to help people,” said the Better Business Bureau’s Bennett Weiner.
In Clef’s defense, a lot of charities’ hands have been tied by red tape and political BS in Haiti following the earthquake, due to the fact that the outbound government at the time wasn’t necessarily all that interested in seeing the country move forward. Yele also wouldn’t be the first American-based charity to partner with people who didn’t necessarily have the best intentions when it came to actually helping Haiti.