News Column

Church ends indirect investment in Wonga a year after row over lender

July 11, 2014

THE Church of England has finally severed its indirect stake in controversial payday lender Wonga after criticism from MPs and other campaigners.

It comes a year after the Church's investment portfolio in Accel Partners, a key financial backer of the firm, was made public at a time when it had launched a stinging criticism of Wonga's high- interest loans.

The revelation caused embarrassment for the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby. He had launched a campaign against payday lenders describing them as "morally wrong".

The religious leader had also said he wanted to compete Wonga out of business.

Last night the Church Commissioners for England, which produces money to support the Church, said it was "pleased to announce" the indirect investment exposure to Wonga in its venture capital portfolio has been removed.

It insisted it had not profited from their connections to the company which was last month ordered by the Financial Conduct Authority to pay pound(s)2.6million in compensation to customers to whom it sent letters from made-up law firms to chase up their arrears.

A commissioners spokesman said: "[We] no longer have any financial or any other interest in Wonga.

"At no time have the Commissioners invested directly in Wonga or in other payday lenders. The indirect exposure of the Commissioners through pooled funds represented considerably less than 0.01% of the value of Wonga.

"The Commissioners are pleased that another way forward has been agreed given their fiduciary duties to clergy pensioners and to all the parts of the Church they support financially."

It said the Commissioners believe venture capital to be "a good and useful instrument with significant potential to serve the common good", but that "ethical investment changes" had been made.

The Church indirectly invested less than pound(s)100,000 in Wonga out of investments totalling pound(s)5.2 billion.


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Source: Herald, The (Scotland)


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