Welby embarrassed by Church's indirect Wonga investment

Friday, 26 July 2013 02:13

The Church of England has faced an embarrassing blow in the Wonga row, after it emerged that it may have indirectly invested in online lender Wonga.

Following the announcement by Most Reverend Justin Welby that the Church was going to force Wonga out of business by aiding credit unions to lend money to consumers at low interest rates, it has emerged that the Church actually invested in funds that provided money for the online lender.

In total, the Church indirectly invested around £75,000 in Wonga, out of investments totalling £5.5 billion. Journalists at the Financial Times found that the Church had invested in US venture capitalists Accel Partners, a company that actually led Wonga fundraising in 2009.

However, despite the embarrassment, Welby insisted he would push ahead with his campaign to compete with payday lenders to put them out of business.


Speaking to the BBC, Archbishop Welby said: "It shouldn't happen, it's very embarrassing, but these things do happen and we have to find out why and make sure it doesn't happen again.

"I've seen it, I've lived in these areas and worked in them. I've had staff who've got caught up in it and had to be helped, and had their lives destroyed by it. This is something that really matters to me," he added.

Archbishop Welby went on to state that a review into the Church's Ethical Investment Advisory Group will now take place to see why the investment was passed. This Group usually recommends against any firm investment for a company that will make three per cent of their income from pornography, ten per cent from military services, or 25 per cent from other sectors such as high interest rates, gambling and alcohol.

Mr Welby added: "I think we have to review these levels and make sure that we are consistent between what we're saying and what we're doing."

Lambeth Palace will now carry out an independent inquiry into how this inconsistency occurred. 

Earlier this week, Archbishop Welby had told Politics magazine that he had talked with Wonga boss Errol Daemlin and had bluntly said that "we're trying to compete you out of existence".

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