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I-Team: More Tax Liens Filed Against Wyclef Jean

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CBS4 Investigates
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Hip hop artist Wyclef Jean is widely expected to announce Thursday evening that he will run for the presidency of Haiti.

Now the CBS4 I-Team has learned that more questions about his finances are being asked here in the states. In January CBS4 reported that several tax liens had been filed against Jean and his wife.

According to court records from New York, New York, Bergen County, New Jersey, Mercer County, New Jersey and Palm Beach County, Florida, Wyclef Jean under the alias Nel W. Jean and his wife Marie Claudinette have at total of $5,278,430.10 in Federal IRS and state tax liens on property they own dating back to 2004. According to the documents, a $4.1 million lien was filed in 2005 for property here in Florida.

Now more liens, filed by the IRS, have surfaced. First reported by the website SmokingGun.com, the liens are taxes Jean allegedly failed to pay from 2006 through 2008 totaling more than $2.1 million on his Saddle River Borough property.

According to property records obtained by the CBS4 I-Team Jean bought the property in Saddle River New Jersey in 1998 for $1.85 million; it is now valued at $2.26 million.

This is the second time in less than a year the musician has come under scrutiny for his spending of money under his control.

Earlier the I-Team uncovered IRS 990 tax forms filed in 2005, 06 and 2007 for Jean’s charity Yele Haiti showing it received a total of $1,661,562 in contributions but spent only about a third of that money, about $595,781, on actual programs for those in Haiti.

Eight-five percent or $1,420,636 of the money received from donors went to things like rent, travel, food, promotion and concert fees.

That amount includes more than $410,000 paid directly to companies owned by Wyclef Jean himself as well as a partner who is also his cousin.

Though Yele Haiti has taken in millions of dollars in January, 2010, for earthquake relief it has yet to give a public accounting for how it has spent that money. On Thursday the charity said it had raised $9 million in the wake of the earthquake.

Of that, $1.5 million has been spent on food, water, tents, clothes and other products for quake survivors, Jean spokeswoman Cindy Tanenbaum said.

On Thursday Jean announced he is stepping down as leader of Yele Haiti.

“I am not stepping down in my commitment to Haiti. On the contrary, regardless of what path I take next, one thing is certain: My focus on helping Haiti turn a new corner will only grow stronger,” Jean said in the statement.

Businessman Derek Q. Johnson will take up the helm of the organization.

View Wylcef Jean’s Tax Liens: Lien 1, Lien 2, Lien 3 (PDF Documents)

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