Church of England sever ties with payday loan company Wonga | United Kingdom | New

News that the Church had an indirect stake in the high-interest online lender sparked a storm of controversy in 2013.

Now the Church has sold its investment, ending its association with Wonga.

Church Commissioners for England, who produce money to support the Church of England, said they were “happy to announce” that exposure to Wonga’s indirect investments in his portfolio venture capital had been cut.

A spokesperson for the Commissioners said: “[We] no longer have any financial or other interest in Wonga. “

The Archbishop of Canterbury said last July he was irritated and embarrassed after it emerged that the Church had helped fund the high-cost, short-term loan company he wanted to drive out of business.

Bishop Justin Welby suggested that a full review of the Church’s investment portfolio could follow, after expressing unease over his ties to Wonga.

Although the amount of Church money indirectly invested in Wonga was less than £ 100,000 of investments totaling £ 5.2bn, it proved embarrassing for the Archbishop, who had spoken out against the payday loan industry.

Earlier this year, Wonga was ordered to pay £ 2.6million in compensation to 45,000 clients who received fraudulent letters from non-existent law firms threatening legal action.

According to a statement released last night by Church commissioners, the religious body has never profited from its association with Wonga.

The statement said, “At no time did the commissioners invest directly in Wonga or other payday lenders. Indirect exposure of auditors through mutual funds was considerably less than 0.01% of Wonga’s value.

“The commissioners are pleased that an alternative path forward has been agreed upon given their fiduciary obligations to retired clergy and all parts of the Church they financially support.”

The statement added that the commissioners believe that venture capital is “a good and useful instrument with great potential to serve the common good”, but that a number of “ethical investment changes” have been made.

Church commissioners are managing investments worth around £ 6.1 billion.

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