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Madonna is no stranger to controversy, but the latest claims go right to the heart of her humanitarian efforts...

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HOT TOPIC: Madonna is no stranger to controversy, but the latest claims go right to the heart of her humanitarian efforts — and indirectly implicate Gucci in the process.

On Wednesday, foxnews.com claimed the singer "has conned both UNICEF USA and Gucci into helping her raise money for the Kabbalah Centre and Madonna's patron gurus, the Berg family." The article claimed Madonna's charity, Raising Malawi, is a front for the Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles, and thus implied that Gucci's Feb. 6 benefit to aid UNICEF and Raising Malawi, which Madonna cohosts, ultimately benefits the Kabbalah Centre.

"I think that the claims in the story are outrageous, they are incorrect, inaccurate, hurtful and malicious," Liz Rosenberg, Madonna's publicist, told WWD. "The reality is — and it's never been a secret — that the Raising Malawi organization was cofounded by Madonna and Michael Berg, who is one of the spearheading executives of the Kabbalah organization. The Raising Malawi organization is completely separate from the Kabbalah, and they are run as two separate organizations."

The foxnews.com report also suggested Raising Malawi had plans to indoctrinate "unsuspecting Malawi orphans into their brand of mysticism," having flown in teachers from Malawi to Los Angeles to "retrofit them for Kabbalah."

"There are no religious lessons being taught to the children of Malawi," Rosenberg said of those claims. "It's tragic, because Madonna has put her passion and love and money behind a project that is saving children's lives, giving them food, health care and schooling. The money that is being raised at the Gucci benefit is being divided between UNICEF and Raising Malawi."

She added that the funds raised that night are earmarked for the building of a girls' school in Malawi. "There is a board, where accountability will be very clear and very specific, and all funds will be accounted for," Rosenberg said.

Gucci, too, issued a statement refuting the claims: "The accusations are not true. By agreement with Raising Malawi, the gifts and donations dedicated to Raising Malawi from this event will go directly to Raising Malawi, which is a legally distinct entity from the Kabbalah Centre or from any religious organization. Proceeds from this event are specifically allocated to support programs for orphans and children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS, including the building of a girls' academy in Malawi."
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