Church 'embarrassed' over Wonga tie

Hillingdon Times: The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby had said he wanted to "compete" Wonga out of business The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby had said he wanted to "compete" Wonga out of business

The money-making arm of the Church of England said it is doing "all it can" to avoid unethical investment after severing ties with payday lender Wonga.

Andrew Brown, secretary to the Church Commissioners for England, admitted it had been left embarrassed when last year it emerged money was indirectly invested in Britain's biggest payday loan company through pooled funds.

He said it has taken 12 months to ensure it could pull out from its exposure to Wonga via its capital venture portfolio at "cost price".

"Frankly, we were embarrassed 12 months ago, and so we've been working over that period to extract that business from the pooled fund," he said.

"It takes time to do that. It's a bit like Jesus' parable in Matthew; it takes time to take out the weeds while leaving the wheat in place."

He said changes to policies and processes regarding their portfolio would ensure the Church Commissioners could "spread its risk while taking in ethical concerns".

"We're doing all we can to make sure this wouldn't happen again, and that's important to make clear," he added.

News of the connection with Wonga proved particularly embarrassing for the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had spoken out against the payday lending industry, insisting he wanted to "compete" them out of business.

He said he has been applying pressure to the Church Commissioners to cut all links with Wonga.

He told the Telegraph: "I have no legal right to intervene at all - I can obviously apply pressure, encouragement, and I've tried to do that.

"And I'm absolutely delighted that we are now out of Wonga and have taken no profit from it.

A furore recently erupted when it emerged that Wonga had sent fake legal letters to customers in order to pressure them into paying up.

Wonga has apologised "unreservedly" for the failings, which happened between October 2008 and November 2010.

It is paying a total of £2.6 million in compensation after sending the correspondence to about 45,000 people and police are considering whether or not Wonga should be subject to a criminal investigation.

The amount of Church money indirectly invested in Wonga was less than £100,000 out of investments totalling £5.2 billion.

The Church Commissioners for England, which produces money to support the Church of England, said at no point was money directly invested in the payday lender.

Comments (4)

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7:45am Fri 11 Jul 14

bluebella says...

The Church, any Religious denomination should not have been anywhere near Wonga or any other lenders.

What did Jesus do? He threw the money changers out of the temple.

A
The Church, any Religious denomination should not have been anywhere near Wonga or any other lenders. What did Jesus do? He threw the money changers out of the temple. A bluebella
  • Score: 0

10:37am Fri 11 Jul 14

Think for yourself says...

"...these guys would be full time into real estate if someone came up with a cure for the dying..." As true now as it was then. Quote: Withnail & I.
"...these guys would be full time into real estate if someone came up with a cure for the dying..." As true now as it was then. Quote: Withnail & I. Think for yourself
  • Score: -1

12:51pm Fri 11 Jul 14

MSG says...

Thank god Wonga now has no ties with the Church of England. The Church of England is mired in sex scandal & anti-female doctrine . Wonga is better off without any link !
Thank god Wonga now has no ties with the Church of England. The Church of England is mired in sex scandal & anti-female doctrine . Wonga is better off without any link ! MSG
  • Score: 1

1:06pm Fri 11 Jul 14

Katie Re-Registered says...

One would have at least hoped the Church would have known the difference between right and wonga.
One would have at least hoped the Church would have known the difference between right and wonga. Katie Re-Registered
  • Score: 2
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