The Church of England no longer invests in Wonga, the UK’s largest payday lender, whom the Archbishop of Canterbury criticized last year for unethical practices.
Archbishop Justin Welby criticized the practice payday lending and proposed that the Church of England could, through church-based credit unions, “compete” these lenders out if business. The next day, news broke that the CofE had invested in Wonga, the UK’s largest payday lender.
Yesterday, the Church Commissioners, who manage the investment portfolio of the Church of England, announced that they no longer have any stake in Wonga.
The Church Commissioners for England are pleased to announce that their indirect investment exposure to Wonga in their venture capital portfolio has been removed. The Church Commissioners no longer have any financial or any other interest in Wonga.
The terms ensure that the Church Commissioners have not made any profit from their investment exposure to Wonga.
At no time have the Commissioners invested directly in Wonga or in other pay day lenders. The indirect exposure of the Commissioners through pooled funds represented considerably less than 0.01% of the value of Wonga.
The Church Commissioners estimate that if they had had to sell their entire venture capital holdings they might have lost £3-9m to remove the exposure to Wonga, which was worth less than £100,000. 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.
The Commissioners believe venture capital to be a good and useful instrument with significant potential to serve the common good. It gets new businesses up and running and supports the economy and jobs.