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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gaga accused of fraud in Japan relief efforts

LOS ANGELES: American pop star Lady Gaga is accused of misrepresenting charitable donations from wristbands sold to benefit tsunami and earthquake victims in Japan earlier this year.

The complaint, filed in a Michigan court on Friday by 1800 lawfirm, says the star as well as her record label, Universal Music Group, and the Bravado International Group, lacked transparency surrounding the amount of money that was raised from sales of the wristbands and whether those funds were 100% allocated to earthquake and tsunami victims.

After the earthquake and tsunami disasters in March 2011 that devastated Japan, Lady Gaga created the rubber wristbands and the singer’s website advertised that all proceeds from sales of the wristband would benefit victims.

The white rubber bracelets were sold for 5 and inscribed in red with the phrase, “We pray for Japan,” in English and Japanese.

“While we commend Lady Gaga for her philanthropic efforts, we want to ensure that claims that “all proceeds will be donated to Japan’s earthquake relief efforts” are in fact true,” said one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, Alyson Oliver, in a press release.

The suit alleges that the singer and her partners “added additional “shipping charges” in excess of the amount required to ship the wristbands based on their weight, and retained a portion of the shipping charges,” according to court documents.

“This misguided lawsuit is without merit and unfortunately takes attention away from the kind deeds of the fans around the world who are supporting the people of Japan,” said Lady Gaga’s spokeswoman, Holly Shakoor in an email to AFP.

“The entire 5 donation made with the purchase of each bracelet is going to support the disaster relief. No profit is being made on shipping costs. Sales tax charges were made in accordance with local legal requirements,” she added.

The lawsuit seeks damages, “including a return of all amounts paid for the products,” according to the press release.

According to Japanese media, Lady Gaga has so far donated approximately 3 million to disaster zones in the northeast of Japan, most of that from the sale of the wristbands.

The star was in Tokyo last weekend for a charity concert organized by MTV Video Music Aid Japan. -- AFP

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