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.”

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

The benefits of being in Recruitment at SThree...

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

Test Analyst - UAT - Credit Risk

£280 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Test Analyst, Edinburgh, Credit Ris...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform