THE CHURCH of England’s plan to take on payday lender Wonga took an embarrassing turn for the worse last night, as it was revealed to have invested in a venture capital firm – Accel Partners – that has itself given financial backing to Wonga.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was forced to launch an immediate review into the church’s pension fund investments.
“We will be asking the Assets Committee of the Church Commissioners to investigate how this has occurred and to review the holding in this pooled investment vehicle,” Lambeth Palace said.
“We will also be requesting the Church Commissioners to investigate whether there are any other inconsistencies as normally all investment policies are reviewed by the Ethical Investment Advisory Group,” the statement added.
Last night Welby was “furious” at the news, according to Sky. The church’s investment was first reported by the Financial Times.
The church, which has strongly criticised Wonga’s business model, plans to form credit unions in a bid to provide an alternative source of lending to people short of cash.
Today, Wonga has launched an advertisement that lists “The 10 Commitments” it makes to its customers. The firm says it never charges interest on periods more than 60 days after the due date.
Wonga has received criticism from public figures outside the church in recent weeks. Newcastle United striker Papiss Cisse had refused to wear the team’s shirt, which is sponsored by Wonga, due to religious objections – though the forward backed down on his threat yesterday.
Michael Bird, James Waterson