A Greenpeace employee has been sacked after losing the environmental organisation a whopping €3.8 million (£3m, $5.1m) in a failed international currency gamble.
Greenpeace raises money through philanthropic donations, and the loss of hundreds if not thousands of people’s contributions to the group will come as some shock to many anti-capitalist, green activists who donate to Greenpeace.
The organisation’s communications director, Mark Townsley, told AFP: “Nothing suggests at this point that he acted for personal gain, it seems to be a terrible miscalculation,” adding that the employee went “above his authority” in agreeing the deal with a broker.
“The contract turned out to be a very bad one,” Townsley added.
The group, which is well known for its militant environmentalist tactics, uses fixed-rate foreign exchange deals to protect itself from fluctuations in world currencies. It is common practice among world-wide non-governmental groups, who usually employ third-party brokers to manage the currency deals.
Townsley said that if Greenpeace did not use this arrangement, it would leave it too exposed to currency fluctuations and lose a lot of money, but this case shows how a bad deal can carry the same amount of risk.
Despite the huge loss, the left wing activist group is unlikely to be existentially affected as its annual budget is currently around €300 million.
Townsley added that the group “would like to apologise” to its donors. “We will do whatever it takes to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Greenpeace may be further embarrassed by the huge financial faux pas as it often claims economic and financial competence: recommending policies for governments around the world, and indeed criticising government policies that do not align with its own economic and environmentalist viewpoint.