Greenpeace has lost more than $5 million in charitable donations, but not in the course of promoting environmental activism. The green group gambled away millions betting on currency markets.
In what the group is calling a “terrible miscalculation,” $5.15 million of charitable donations to Greenpeace was lost in international currency transactions. A lone employee reportedly went “above his authority” and bet on a falling euro in the wake of Europe’s financial crisis.
But the euro rebounded, costing the international green group millions in donations. The group says there is no indication of corruption within the group and no Greenpeace campaigning activities will be affected.
“Nothing suggests at this point that he acted for personal gain, it seems to be a terrible miscalculation,” said Netherlands-based Greenpeace spokesman Mike Townsley told the AFP.
Greenpeace International is responsible for financial transactions involving the group’s 40 national and regional offices around the world. The group says it has fixed the internal control error that allowed the employee to gamble away so much money and the employee responsible has been let go — Greenpeace declined to name the employee.
“We would like to apologize to donors,” Townsley said. “We will do whatever it takes to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
It’s not that uncommon for such organizations, like Greenpeace, to make currency investments, according to Townsley, who added “we would be too exposed to currency fluctuations and risk to lose a lot of money.”
This multi-million dollar loss, however, is only a drop in the bucket for the environmental behemoth. Der Spiegel reports that Greenpeace International reported about 270 million euros in revenues from its 3 million members around the world.
The news also comes as Greenpeace is taking fire from the Indian government for allegedly threatening the country’s national economic security. India’s Intelligence Bureau says the group’s anti-fossil fuels activism is endangering the country’s energy security and hurting economic growth by two or three percent per year.
“It is assessed to be posing a potential threat to national economic security… growing exponentially in terms of reach, impact, volunteers and media influence,” the Intelligence Bureau said of Greenpeace, adding the group is finding “ways to create obstacles in India’s energy plans” and to “pressure India to use only renewable energy.”
The Indian government may soon take action against Greenpeace India, blocking the group’s ability to get foreign funding.
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