The Church of England has called for an investigation into its own pension fund after The Financial Times revealed it had links to pay-day lender Wonga. It comes as the Archbishop of Canterbury, and former Bishop of Durham, Most Rev Justin Welby, said he wants to take on pay-day lenders.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is reported to "furious" by the BBC after it was revealed that the Church of England pension fund invests in one of Wonga’s key financial backers.
The Most Reverend Justin Welby yesterday launched an attack on the payday loan company saying he wants to "compete it out of existence" by supporting credit unions.
The Church has now launched an investigation into how it has come to invest in the company.
The Church of England’s pension fund has admitted it invests in one of Wonga’s key financial backers, the Financial Times (£) reported.
The fund invests in Accel Partners, a US venture capital firm that led the fundraising for Wonga in 2009, the report states.
A Lambeth Palace spokesperson said: “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.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury has promised to take on pay-day lenders and put them out of business.
The Most Rev Justin Welby has criticised Newcastle United's primary sponsor - Wonga - for charging high rates of interest. He said the Church of England wants to "compete" it out of existence.
Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse has agreed to wear the logo of sponsor Wonga on his shirt.
The 28-year-old Muslim had refused to display the pay-day loan company's branding on his kit because earning interest is forbidden by Islamic Law.
However, after several weeks of delicate negotiations, the Senegal international and the club have now found a solution and the player, who missed the club's pre-season training camp in Portugal as a result of his stance, will return to the fold.
The Church of England's Head of Mission and Public Affairs says the time the Archbishop of Canterbury spent in cities including Durham has influenced his decision to tackle pay-day loans companies.
Rev Dr Malcolm Brown said: "This is a man who has worked in a lot of major cities in the country - Coventry, Liverpool, Durham.
"He wasn't in Durham very long but he found out a great deal about it and that's been a major factor in the way he's approached the whole question of finance, banking and the way people work with money."
Wonga has responded to the Archbishop of Canterbury's claims that the Church of England plans to go head-to-head with pay-day lenders.
Errol Damelin, founder and Chief Executive of Wonga, said:
"The Archbishop is an exceptional individual, with our discussions ranging from the future of banking and financial services to the emerging digital society. On his ideas for competing with us, Wonga welcomes competition from any quarter that gives the consumer greater choice in effectively managing their financial affairs”
The Archbishop of Canterbury signs the credit union application. The Most Rev Justin Welby helped launch a new credit union for clergy and church staff, in an attempt to tackle pay-day lenders.
- The Most Rev Justin Welby read law and history at Trinity College, Cambridge and began his career in the oil industry based in Paris and London, where he worked on West African - mainly Nigerian - and North Sea projects.
- He became a group treasurer in a company called Enterprise Oil, before resigning in 1987 after 11 years in the industry to train for the Anglican priesthood.
- He has also served on the parliamentary Banking Standards Commission.
Conservative politicians have been voicing their support of the Archbishop of Canterbury's plans to provide an alternative to payday lending, on Twitter.
I approve of @abcjustin's free-market approach to loan sharks. Don't preach at them; offer more attractive competition.
Justin Welby right that best way to deal with rip-off loans is to offer an attractive but responsible alternative, #creditunions
Archbishop Welby has a point going after the so called legitimate loansharks aka payday lenders such as Wonga. Their rates are rapacious!