HELENA, Mont. – Three Cups of Tea author Greg Mortenson mismanaged the non-profit organization he co-founded to build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan and spent millions of dollars of charity money on charter flights, family vacations and personal items, according to an investigation revealed Thursday.
Mortensons control of the Central Asia Institute went largely unchallenged by its board of directors, the report prepared by the Montana Attorney Generals Office said. When an employee would question his practices, Mortenson either resisted or ignored the person, the report found.
The result was a lack of financial accountability in which large amounts of cash sent overseas were never accounted for. Itemized expenses listed as program-related were missing supporting receipts and documentation.
Mortenson himself reaped financial benefits at the expense of the Central Asia Institute, including the free travel for promotion of Three Cups of Tea and a later book, and the royalties from thousands of copies CAI bought to donate to libraries, schools, churches and military personnel, the report said.
Mortenson must reimburse the charity more than $1 million under a settlement agreement. Nearly half has already been repaid.
Mortenson will continue to work as a paid employee of the charity but will no longer serve on its board of directors.