For all its good intentions, Greenpeace International announced that the company would be filing record losses this year based on an employee at the environmental campaign group’s Amsterdam headquarters who speculated on the weak Euro. Its believed that the employee lost €3.8 million or roughly $5 million when the euro strengthened and Greenpeace was forced to close its accounts at the end of the year.
Perhaps best known for its direct actions against nuclear proliferation when the group was founded in the late 1960’s, the NGO has branched out over the years to try to affect change on such issues as global warming, deforestation, overfishing, genetic engineering and quite famously, commercial whaling where it has rammed whaling vessels as well as been shot at over the years.
Greenpeace International: The apology
As a result of the unapproved currency speculation, Greenpeace International’s will show a budget deficit of €6.8m.
“We offer a full apology to our supporters for the series of errors that led to the loss,” the group’s statement said. “We further wish to reassure people that every possible action is being taken to avoid the possibility of such a loss ever occurring again in future.”
Not surprisingly, the staff member who worked in the groups international finance unit has been released from his contract. While the group maintains that he wasn’t not interested in personal gain, he did fail to get authorization for his gaffe from his superiors.
Trust and euro exposure
While it may not seem a huge sum, it represents a big chunk of the organizations annual income that was €72.9m in 2013. The biggest cost to the company will certainly be a loss of trust amongst donors. I’m guessing your average donor isn’t a big fan of bankers and speculative investment.
That’s an area where Greenpeace will see losses for some time as 90% of the organization’s funding comes from small donations of under €100.
Greenpeace has long maintained that it only makes real estate investments in cities like London or Moscow where the price of rent is prohibitive compared to a purchase. Given that the majority of the group’s donations are made in euros, exposes the group to currency fluctuations and presumably the exchange contracts were made to protect its assets.