Sunday, January 17, 2010

Is Wyclef's Yele Haiti Foundation Legit?

I normally don't cite MediaTakeOut as a reliable source, but I do trust the Smoking Gun and the Associated Press. There are some organizations launching investigations into Wyclef Jean's Yele charity. It looks like there are some tax discrepancies...

MTO's report:
According to the Better Business Bureau, there are a number of ACCOUNTING IRREGULARITIES. Here's an excerpt from an Associated Press report:
Even as more than $2 million poured into The Wyclef Jean Foundation Inc. via text message after just two days, experts questioned how much of the money would help those in need.

"It's questionable. There's no way to get around that," said Art Taylor, president and chief executive of the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, based in Arlington, Va.

Taylor reviewed Internal Revenue Service tax returns for the organization also known as Yele Haiti Foundation from 2005 through 2007. He said the first red flag of poor accounting practices was that three years of returns were filed on the same day — Aug. 10 of last year.

In 2007, the foundation's spending exceeded its revenues by $411,000. It brought in just $79,000 that year.

"Here's the bottom line: for an earthquake of catastrophic proportions, do people really believe that this organization is in a position to do anything right now?" he said.

The website paints an even more SCANDALOUS picture. Here’s what they’re saying:
Internal Revenue Service records show the group has a lackluster history of accounting for its finances, and that the organization has paid the performer and his business partner at least $410,000 for rent, production services, and Jean's appearance at a benefit concert.

But not all places are suggesting that the donations may go into Wyclef’s pocket. Here’s more from the AP article:
Sandra Miniutti, vice president of marketing for Charity Navigator, an organization that evaluates charities, said the foundation was too small to have been examined recently, although the current flood of goodwill may change that. Its revenue in 2008 was $1.9 million.

"My concern is it goes against our first tip, and that is to give only to groups with experience with disaster relief," Miniutti said. "I think it's very hard for a new organization even with the best intentions to handle something on this magnitude."
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