With Wyclef Jean’s recent run for Haitian Presidential candidacy, the Haitian artist’s past activity with Yéle is now in question. It was widely reported that Yéle’s 2006 tax filing revealed $350,000 in questionable payments to two companies that Mr. Jean and his cousin control, including $250,000 to a Haitian television station they had just acquired. With a history of poor economy in Haiti, Jean’s involvement with Yéle may affect many people’s trust in him.
A few months before Wyclef Jean, the hip-hop star, declared his candidacy for president of Haiti, the representative of a struggling tent camp made a pilgrimage to the new headquarters of Mr. Jean’s charity. He arrived, hat in hand, at the eight-acre compound the charity leased after a fund-raising bonanza in response to the Jan. 12 earthquake.
But the representative, Carel Calixte of the Christ Roi camp, could not get past the gate of the $15,000-a-month property, where grapefruit and palm trees surround an unfilled swimming pool and two model homes for the homeless sit empty. So, accepting a vague promise of assistance, he left.
No help ever arrived, Mr. Calixte and other leaders at Christ Roi said, even though the charity, Yéle Haiti, lists their camp among several dozen it supports. Yéle’s president, Hugh Locke, provided dates of several water deliveries to Christ Roi. But camp leaders insist that their water has been supplied not by Yéle but by two other nonprofit groups.
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At least four more camps that Yéle claims to support also maintain that they have received nothing from Yéle — “Not even a cookie!” Ricardo Dorvelus, a camp leader, said — and still others characterize Yéle’s assistance as short-lived or token, like the television donated to one camp that broke halfway through the World Cup.
Mr. Jean, who is considered a potential front-runner in the campaign, said his charity was saving lives, especially in “the roughest communities.” He dismissed the accounts from camp leaders as “hearsay” that reflected “the overall fear and anger in these camps after nearly seven months of hardship and fear.”
Mr. Jean also expressed displeasure that his presidential bid has renewed scrutiny of his charity and its history of poor financial management “at a time when I am trying to make a genuine difference.”
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