01/18/2010 AT 7:40 PM ET
In a tearful news conference, Wyclef Jean denied allegations he profited from his organization Yéle Haiti, his foundation to help the country recently devastated by an earthquake.
“Did we make mistakes? Yes. Did I ever use any of Yéle’s money for personal benefits? Absolutely not,” the emotional musician told reporters Monday in New York. “Yéle’s books are open and transparent, and we have been a clean bill of health by an external auditor every year since we started.”
TheSmokingGun.com reported last week that Jean had used $410,000 from the foundation to pay for rent, production services, and Jean’s appearance at a benefit concert.
Hugh Locke, president of Yéle Haiti, offered to provide past tax forms to insure that the organization has nothing to hide. And tax experts tell CNN it’s routine for individuals to charge their own charities as long as services are being provided in return.
Charity Navigator, which evaluates non-profit organizations, also notes that Yéle Haiti filed three years worth of U.S. taxes late. “Charities are often not especially timely in filing these documents,” the group says, “but this is beyond late.”
Locke acknowledged that was a mistake. “We should have been on top of it,” he said. “We were not.”