Montana's attorney general is investigating Greg Mortenson and his Central Asia Institute.
In his book, "Three Cups of Tea", author Greg Mortenson described how he was rescued by the Pakistani villagers of Korphe when he wandered in lost and exhausted after a failed Himalayan climb. Mortenson said he felt grateful and returned to build a school for the town. The book became a best seller and Mortenson went on to found the Central Asia Institute to build schools all over the Afghanistan and Pakistan. He also went on to advise the U.S. military in Afghanistan.
Last April, journalist Jon Krakauer and "60 Minutes" raised questions about Mortenson's story and said that Mortenson was misusing the funds he raised to build schools. That reporting led to a civil suit against Mortenson and CAI, and prompted Montana's attorney general to begin a civil investigation which includes, according to the A.G’s office, "reviewing allegations of improper financial benefit to Greg Mortenson through the royalties, speaking fees, and travel reimbursements associated with the books Mr. Mortenson wrote, as well as financial oversight of the nonprofit by Mortenson and its board of directors.”
Alex Heard, the only journalist Mortenson has spoken with at length about the allegations, says "the case is now heating up, with important developments in the lawsuit and hints that the Attorney General's probe could go badly for CAI."
Producer’s Note: This story had initially said Montana's Attorney General is considering "possible criminal fraud charges" against Greg Mortenson. The new wording reflects the following clarification from Attorney General Steve Bullock's office:
"Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock’s office is conducting a civil investigation into nonprofit governance issues concerning the board and management of CAI. This includes reviewing allegations of improper financial benefit to Greg Mortenson through the royalties, speaking fees, and travel reimbursements associated with the books Mr. Mortenson wrote, as well as financial oversight of the nonprofit by Mortenson and its board of directors.
The investigation is not focused on determining the truth of information included in Mr. Mortenson’s books or whether that amounted to fraud.
The investigation of CAI and Mr. Mortenson is a high priority for this office, and we expect to make public the results of our investigation sometime in mid-March."
- Alex Heard, reporter from Outside Magazine
This segment aired on February 28, 2012.