Wyclef Jean Defends Charity, Makes Plea for Haiti
After spending three days in his earthquake-ravaged homeland, Haitian-born musician and onetime Fugee Wyclef Jean addressed the press in New York with a mixture of sorrow for his country and defiance about allegations that he had misappropriated funds intended to go to his foundation, Yele Haiti, in the past. –KA
Wyclef Jean addressed accusations against his Yele Haiti organization for the second time in as many days, delivering prepared remarks to a roomful of reporters at Manhattan’s Sheraton Hotel this afternoon.
Wyclef entered the press conference — held on the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday — sporting a dark suit, blue dress shirt and striped tie. The toll of spending three days in Haiti seemed to be catching up to him. At one point he spoke directly to the cameras as he delivered remarks to Haiti in the country’s native tongue. Tears streamed down both sides of Wyclef’s cheeks as he spoke and a weariness set in around his darkened, red eyes. A loose translation of his speech relayed throughout the room explained his tears were not for him, but rather for the people of his country. Earlier Wyclef flashed his permanent green card and Haitian passport to illustrate how connected he still is to his country of birth.
After Wyclef’s remarks, he left and [Yele Haiti President Hugh] Locke took questions from the press, tackling inquiries about the Smoking Gun’s report head on, specifically the payouts from Yele Haiti to Wyclef’s for-profit companies, a recording studio in New York ($100,000) and a production company in Haiti ($250,000). (Currently, Locke said, the foundation has not spent any of the recently donated funds as they’ve been overwhelmed by the volume of the contributions.)