Greenpeace loses £3m of public donations after currency gaffes

A senior worker in its financial unit was sacked after he failed to follow guidelines for making the bets

Greenpeace has lost €3.8 million of public donations on a series of blundering currency bets that went wrong, the charity has admitted.

The loss will see a hire freeze across the organisation and delay a new internet database and portal that was being built, but bosses insist no frontline projects, such as its campaign in Greenland and the Arctic, will be hit.

A senior worker in its financial unit, which is responsible for exchanging donations into local currencies where it needs to be spent, was sacked after he failed to follow guidelines for making the bets. However, the problems were only noticed once it was too late to rectify.

Greenpeace said there was no suggestion the employee benefited financially or fraud was involved, adding that it was an “honest mistake” by the worker who had several years’ experience in the financial sector.

An external audit will also take place and the charity said it will involve authorities if it turns up anything unusual.

Pascal Husting, International programme director at Greenpeace, told the Independent: “He didn’t fully understand the nature of the operations. He was a very senior member of our finance unit who should have known what he was doing but he made a serious misjudgement.”

He explained that the unit, which controlled €72.9m last year, was expected to set up contracts to hedge against currency fluctuations. Greenpeace receives a disproportionate amount of donations from Europe compared with where it spends its funds. The unit, based in Amsterdam and employs 15 staff, exchanges the funds into local currencies where it is distributed.

It has been busier in the past few years where more money has needed to be exchanged into currencies particularly in South America and parts of Asia.

However, the employee set up too many contracts betting that the Euro would not rise last year. When the Euro strengthened at the end of the year and the contracts came to an end, the unit lost the cash.

Mr Husting explained: “We have double sign offs on all contracts, but the rules were not respected in this case. Staff must get the second sign off from someone senior to them, but he used a junior instead.”

He added that the staff member had received no training in foreign exchange trading from Greenpeace but had been expected to have the relevant experience because of his seniority.

Greenpeace claimed it was not at risk and the losses will not increase because all the contracts have now come to an end.

The organisation has put in place new safeguards to avoid future heavy losses but will continue hedging from the Amsterdam unit, which will remain open.

The lost cash, which came from the 300 million donations it receives each year, would be replaced over several years through a series of cost cutting measures, although the organisation insisted it would not stop funding frontline projects.

Mr Husting said: “We will not reduce our expenditure on the front line. We will save on staffing costs and will not fill current job vacancies. We will also delay investments in infrastructure projects, including a new database system which will allow us to act more globally to be in contact with our supporters.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£12500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Adviser - OTE £24,500

£22500 - £24500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Inbound and outbound calls with...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'