Wyclef Jean Tearfully Defends Charity

Musician denies using organization to pay himself
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 18, 2010 5:17 PM CST

(Newser) – Wyclef Jean defended his Yele Haiti charity against accusations of fraud today, crying as he spoke in Creole. "Did I ever use Yele money for personal benefits? Absolutely not," the singer told reporters. The revelation that the charity paid $250,000 for services provided Telemax, a Haitian television company owned by Jean, originated with the Smoking Gun and quickly mushroomed.

But IRS experts that it is common for individuals to charge their own charities, a claim made more legitimate because Telemax charged Yele below-market rates, CNNMoney reports. Hugh Locke, president of Yele, said the transaction was merely meant to be efficient, and that the company would not make the mistake again. Yele had also filed several years' worth of tax returns late, a lapse expected to be corrected now that the charity is taking in millions of dollars.

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