Business, Economics and Jobs

'Three Cups of Tea' author forced to repay $1 million to his charity


The yearlong investigation of Mortenson's charity found that it took in far more donations than it spent, accumulating $23 million in reserves.



'Three Cups of Tea' author and Central Asia Insitute (CAI) charity founder, Greg Mortenson, agreed to pay $1 million back to his organization and step down from its board after a Montana court ruled that he had misused funds.

In an investigative report by the Montana court, it was found that Mortenson used millions of dollars from his charity on charter flights, family vacations and other personal expenses, said the Associated Press.

In one instance, the charity bought nearly four million dollars worth of Mortenson's books at full price from an online retailer, while Mortenson did not abide by an agreement to donate the royalties to the charity after it made those purchases and helped promote the book.

Mortenson ran the CAI, whose mission is to promote and provide education and literacy programs for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan, for 16 years before stepping down.

AFP reported that his control of the Institute went largely unchallenged by its board of directors, which consisted of himself and two people who were reportedly loyal to him.

Mortenson became the center of controversy last year when travel author Jon Krakauer said to 60 Minutes that he believed the bestselling author had fabricated parts of his books and had become wealthy from his charity.

The report alleged that many of the schools built and run by Mortenson's charity had never opened or were barely used. 

The attorney general of Montana, where the charity is based, investigated the allegations into financial fraud at CAI but did not look at the book's claims regarding CAI's schools.

According to the Associated Press, the investigation took one year and revealed that CAI received more donations than it spent - accumulating $23 million worth of reserves - and had very weak oversight of its finances.

The Daily Beast reported that as part of the legal settlement, neither Mortenson nor CAI have to admit wrongdoing or repay donors.