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Whale of a bad trade: Greenpeace loses $5.2 million in currency bets

New Rainbow Warrior III Arrives At Hamburg PortNew Rainbow Warrior III Arrives At Hamburg Port
The Rainbow Warrior III, the newest ship of the environmental conservation organization Greenpeace,is accompanied by Greenpeace activists in rubber dinghies on its way to port in Hamburg, Germany. Sean Gallup--Getty Images

Greenpeace International admitted that it lost $5.2 million (3.8 million euros) in poorly managed foreign currency exchange contracts, the company announced Sunday.

The Amsterdam-based non-profit group wrongly bet that the euro would not strengthen against other currencies last year. It was a contract placed by an employee in its International Finance Unit who was acting “beyond the limits of their authority and without following proper procedures,” Greenpeace said.

The environment-focused non-profit relies on donations from millions of individual supporters around the world and, in order to maintain their operating independence, does not accept money from governments or corporations.

“We are extremely grateful for their contributions and are determined to ensure their trust is not misplaced,” the company said in a statement.

That staff member, who gained nothing personally from the contract, has been let go from the organization.

Greenpeace apologized for the loss and sought to reassure donors that the company is taking steps to prevent such a loss happening again. This includes a complete independent audit to determine how the faulty bets took place and what can be done to improve internal procedures.

Greenpeace’s 2013 annual report will show a budget deficit of $9.2 million, which includes the loss from the bad currency contract. The non-profit had income of $98.7 million last year and a global budget of about $406.2 million.

The company plans to make adjustments for these losses over the next two to three years by updating planned infrastructure investments.