Greenpeace employee fired after losing €3.8m in currency bet

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 June, 2014, 9:06pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2014, 6:29am


A Greenpeace employee has been fired after losing the environmental charity €3.8 million (HK$39.8 million) in a failed gamble on international currency markets, the group said.

"Nothing suggests at this point that he acted for personal gain. It seems to be a terrible miscalculation," Greenpeace communications director Mike Townsley said on Sunday.

The unnamed employee "went above his authority" in agreeing to the deal with a broker, who was meant to mitigate currency losses for the Netherlands-based charity, he said.

"The contract turned out to be a very bad one," Townsley said, adding that an internal investigation was under way.

Greenpeace, like many other big charities, agrees to fixed-rate foreign exchange deals with third-party brokers to try to protect itself from world currency fluctuations.

"It is common practice for organisations like ours, with a worldwide presence," Townsley said. "[Without them] we would be too exposed to currency fluctuations and at risk of losing a lot of money."

Greenpeace, known for its militant anti-drilling campaigns at Arctic oil rigs, has an annual budget of about €300 million.

No Greenpeace campaign will suffer as a result of the loss, which will be absorbed by reducing expenses on items such as infrastructure over the next two to three years.

"We would like to apologise" to donors, Townsley said.

"We will do whatever it takes to make sure it doesn't happen again."