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April 18, 2011

Money Questions Raised About Asia Charity Formed by ‘Three Cups’ Author

Charity watchdogs and others are raising questions about spending by  the author and philanthropist Greg Mortenson’s charity, the Central Asia Institute,  according to a "60 Minutes" report aired Sunday.

The television show also said that he exaggerated or fabricated elements of his best-selling memoir Three Cups of Tea that form the charity’s foundation.

The institute has raised millions of dollars to build and support schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and President Obama gave it $100,000 of his Nobel Peace Prize proceeds. In his books and speeches, Mr. Mortenson says he was inspired to launch the charity by his experience in Korphe, a tiny Himalayan village whose residents cared for him after a failed 1993 effort to climb K2, the world’s second-highest mountain.

Daniel Borochoff, head of the American Institute of Philanthropy, told the CBS News program that the Central Asia Institute's informational tax returns show that it spends more money promoting Mr. Mortenson’s books and its school-building efforts than on the schools themselves.

"60 Minutes" interviewed members of the K2 party and a former associate of Mr. Mortenson's who dispute the Korphe story and his later claim to have been kidnapped by the Taliban.

Mr. Mortenson, who declined to speak to "60 Minutes," issued a statement to several news outlets Sunday defending his claims in the book and the work of his Bozeman, Mont., charity, The New York Times writes.