Church of England to keep Amazon shares despite Welby criticism

Church of England to keep Amazon shares despite Welby criticism

Justin Welby

The Church of England has said that she will keep her stake in the Amazon – one day after the archbishop of Canterbury said the company "skimmed the taxpayer".

The Church Times has shown that Amazon was one of the top 20 global church investments last year.

A statement from CofE stated that the most effective way to be a shareholder is to "feel at home with these companies".

Amazon has repeatedly said that it pays all the taxes required in the UK.

Archbishop Justin Welby said in a speech to the union's congress on Wednesday: "If big companies like Amazon and other online retailers, the new industries, can pay almost without taxes, something is wrong with the tax system.

"They do not pay a real living wage, so the taxpayer must provide social benefits to their employees.

"And get rid of the taxpayer if they do not pay for our defense, security, stability, justice, health, equality, education."

His comments came a week after he told the BBC that a fundamental rethink was needed on how the economy works, including higher taxes on technology giants and rich people.

  • British taxes must rise, says Archbishop Welby
  • Should technology companies pay more taxes?

The 2017 Church Commissioners Annual Review, which looks at Church investments, found that Amazon Inc. was one of the top 20 global equity investments.

A statement from the church states: "We regard aggressive tax avoidance or abusive tax regimes both as a business risk and as an ethical issue.

"As with other topics, we believe it is most effective to be in the room with those companies seeking change as shareholders.

"We continue to work with other shareholders to address this issue through engagement with companies and their managers."

The church achieved a return of 18.6% on global equities in 2017.

In 2014, the commissioners sold around 75,000 pounds of shares in payday lender Wonga after the archbishop promised to "throw them out of business".

He had admitted that he was "embarrassed" and "irritated" when details of the compound appeared in 2013.

Last week, Amazon briefly became the second US-listed company with a market value in excess of $ 1 trillion (£ 779bn).

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