"I am 3X Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter/producer Wyclef Jean, and today marks the 20th anniversary of the Fugees' The Score - Ask me Anything!" — the AMA began like any other, really. The first question then set the tone for what was to follow.
"Yeah I've got a question for you:
How dare you?"
On 12 January 2010, a devastating 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti — killing over 220,000 people, and leaving a further 300,000 injured. Jean set up a charity, Yele Haiti, to help Haitian people recover from the disaster, and millions of dollars of donations came flooding in. The problem was, the charity was a scam.
"I have a question for you," asked Skybrew, "how do you sleep at night knowing that the money people were donating to your charity Yele could have been spent improving the lives of 'your people' but instead you spent it on yourself and your celebrity friends?
"How do you justify $600,000 in donations went to Yele's headquarters, which have since been abandoned, $375,000 to cover 'landscaping' costs, $470,000 spent on food and beverages, you paid yourself $100,000 to perform at a 'Charity' event for your presidency bid, $100,000 to your mistress, $30,763 to fly Hollywood Lindsay Lohan from New Jersey to a Chicago.
"You have stolen a total of $9 million dollars of the $16 million donated to Haiti. Do you feel like the biggest douche bag on earth or do you like stealing from the mouths of the poor and needy?"
It's now been two days since Jean opened himself up to questions, and then promptly deleted his account. Yele Haiti ceased operating in December 2012, following massive corruption within the organisation. USD$16 million was donated in 2010 alone, with only USD$5.1 million actually going towards emergency relief efforts in Haiti.
So where did the money go? Skybrew nails it.
Among the spending was more than $300,000 paid to a contractor owned by Jean's brother-in-law. $35,000 a month was paid for a house in Haiti used by Yele staff — well above standard rental rates in the region. Jean netted a $100,000 fee to perform at a charity fundraiser. $250,000 was spent on a telecommunication company in Haiti which he owned, he scored $31,000 a year for his own rent and his mistress received $105,000.
An investigation into the charity by the New York State Attorney General revealed further insight. "The forensic audit examined $3 million of the charity's 2005 to 2009 expenses and found $256,580 in illegitimate benefits to Mr. Jean and other Yele board and staff members as well as improper or potentially improper transactions," revealed The New York Times' Deborah Sontag.
"These included $24,000 for Mr. Jean's chauffeur services and $30,763 for a private jet that transported Lindsay Lohan from New Jersey to a benefit in Chicago that raised only $66,000."
$600,000 was spent on Yele's Haiti headquarters, which were abandoned by 2012. More than $300,000 was spent on landscaping, and a further $400,000 spent on food and beverages for Yele staff.
$93,000 was spent on temporary homes that were never built, $146,000 on a medical centre that never happened, and $230,000 worth of repairs on a plaza in the Cite Soleil slum are non-existent.
So much is left unanswered about Jean's dealings with Yele. Unless he returns to his AMA, it looks like they will remain that way.
Before deleting his account, Jean responded to a number of questions which have been heavily downvoted by Reddit users. In response to CHNYC's question: "With all that money you stole from those poor Haitians, why couldn't you help Lauryn Hill out with her tax bill?" Jean replied:
its so important that u understand that if u fully do real research u will understand that whenever u decide that u are going to do more then sing and dance u have to be ready for the lies that comes with it i have never stolen from my people i brought Haitian pride to my people and despite what they tried to do i am growing stronger everyday and will continue to do my part as i can see you are doing your part as well