Church of England invests in Wonga financial backer

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Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby suffered embarrassment today after it emerged the Church of England pension fund invests in a key financial backer of Wonga just 24 hours after he said he wanted to compete the payday lender “out of existence”.

Yesterday Welby unveiled his plans to compete with Wonga and other payday lenders by launching a credit union through 16,000 churches.

But the Church of England has admitted to the FT today it invests in Accel Partners, a US venture capital firm which led Wonga’s 2009 fundraising.

The Church has a strict ethical investment policy and bans investment in payday lending.

A Lambeth Palace spokesman said: “We are grateful to the Financial Times for pointing out this serious inconsistency of which we were unaware. 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 FT says the investment is only worth a few million pounds in a portfolio of more than £5bn.

Welby led the charge in forcing the Government to regulate payday lenders from next April during the passage of the Financial Services Act 2012 through the House Lords.