Yéle Haiti Closes Amid Investigations

Two months after the remaining employee of Yéle Haiti, the charity established by Haitian-American hip hop artist Wyclef Jean, resigned, questions remain about the $16 million the charity collected to benefit the people of earthquake-battered Haiti, the New York Times reports.

On the heels of Jean's refusal to accept a settlement proposed by the New York attorney general's office regarding alleged "financial improprieties," Yéle Haiti CEO Derek Q. Johnson resigned in August. Other investigations into the charity's finances and activities, many of which have been abandoned, continue.

The charity, which raised millions of dollars in the days following the January 2010 earthquake that devastated portions of the impoverished nation, made a number of commitments to Haiti and its people that never came to fruition, including construction of temporary homes and a medical center and the revitalization of a plaza in the Cité Soleil slum. A number of other projects, including an orphanage and a jobs corps, were never started or left uncompleted.

A forensic audit of the charity's post-disaster expenses has found $256,580 in allegedly illegitimate benefits to Jean and other board and staff members, as well as questionable transactions, including hundreds of thousands of dollars for a private jet, chauffer, and other personal services. In 2010, the charity recorded spending $9 million, with half allocated to administrative costs such as salaries, transportation, and office and storage expenses. In contrast, actor Sean Penn's J/P Haitian Relief Organization spent roughly $13 million in 2010, with only 10 percent going to overhead costs.

Jean's spokeswoman did not respond to specific questions from the Times but did say that the musician and his lawyers "are working assiduously to resolve any pending issues with respect to Y�le prior to its closing as Jean continues his tireless commitment to his beloved country."

Deborah Sontag. "In Haiti, Little Can Be Found of a Hip-Hop Artist's Charity." New York Times 10/11/2012.