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‘Three Cups of Tea’ Author Agrees to Repay His Charity More than $1M

Posted Apr 6, 2012 8:43 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The author of the book Three Cups of Tea has agreed to repay the charity he co-founded more than $1 million in a settlement with the Montana attorney general.

An investigation of Greg Mortenson found problems in the management of his charity, the Central Asia Institute, according to a report released on Thursday. The Associated Press, CNN and the Great Falls Tribune have stories.

According to CNN, the probe found that Mortenson didn’t reimburse the charity for travel expenses paid by sponsors, didn’t pay the group promised royalties, and charged personal expenses to the organization, including L.L. Bean clothing, iTunes and vacations. The charity says the items charged were legitimate expenses, including clothing for overseas managers and music for presentations.

Mortenson will be able to remain an employee of the charity, but he will no longer be a voting board member or have financial authority.

Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock said Mortenson has already repaid about $500,000, the Great Falls Tribune says. "Greg Mortenson's pursuits are noble, and his achievements are important," Bullock said. "However, serious internal problems in the management of CAI surfaced. … Mr. Mortenson may not have intentionally deceived the board or his employees, but his disregard for and attitude about basic record keeping and accounting for his activities essentially had the same effect."

The probe did not investigate allegations that Mortenson fabricated parts of his book.

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