Wyclef Jean defends integrity of his Yele Haiti Foundation

Sunday, January 17, 2010; A16

Musician Wyclef Jean responded to criticisms of his Yele Haiti Foundation Saturday with a YouTube video, saying he has put $1 million of his own money into the foundation.

"I gotta tell you, coming back in here after digging kids up . . . and finding cemeteries for them . . . this is what I come back to: an attack on my integrity and my foundation, Yele Haiti. . . . you can donate to whatever charity you want to."

Yele Haiti has raised more than $1.5 million since the earthquake but some experts in nonprofit management have raised questions about expenses paid to businesses owned by Jean and another member of the board.

"You can't put a show together without a production," Jean said in the video, apparently referring to a $100,000 payment to his recording studio for a benefit concert performance. "You need lights, you need a stage. . . . You need a tour manager. . . . I never, never would ever take money for my personal pocket when it comes to Yele."

In the video, Jean asks viewers to watch footage of him working with victims and decide "whether Wyclef is truth or not."

-- Susan Kinzie

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