Faced with criticism over his Yele Haiti charity's mishandling of money, an emotional Wyclef Jean called a press conference in New York on Monday (Jan. 18) to defend his nonprofit and speak to victims of the massive earthquake in his home country.
"Accusations have been made about me and about Yele," Jean began. "I started the charity with my own funds. I wanted to make sure that Yele would not just be a foundation but it would actually be an NGO [non-governmental organization] on the ground in Haiti."
"Have we made mistakes before? Yes," Jean said. "Did I ever use Yele money for personal benefits? Absolutely not. Yele's books are open and transparent, and we have been [given] a clean bill of health by an external auditor every year since we started."
The former Fugee's statement -- his second one this weekend -- followed a report by The Smoking Gun that Yele Haiti "paid the performer and his business partner at least $410,000 for rent, production services, and Jean's appearance at a benefit concert."
Jean grew emotional during the press conference, tears streaming down the musician's face as he looked into the cameras and addressed the Haitian people directly. "I tell them that I do not cry for myself, that I cry for them," Jean explained. "We're gonna be back on the ground on Saturday, and we'll be back on the ground every week until we help the situation.
Watch Wyclef in his own words above.