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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The chief executive of the South African unit of Britain s Wonga has stepped down, a spokeswoman said on Monday, becoming the latest high-profile departure from the payday lender.

Kevin Hurwitz, who launched Wonga in South Africa two years ago, resigned at the end of September to pursue other opportunities, spokeswoman Debbie Sharwood said, confirming local media reports over the weekend.

Hurwitz will remain with the company in a part-time advisory role, Sharwood said, adding it was looking for a replacement.

A friend of founder Errol Damelin, Hurwitz oversaw Wonga s rapid growth in South Africa, telling Reuters last year its expansion was beyond expectations and that it was extending tens of thousands of loans a month.

But the company also ran afoul of regulators. In July, South Africa s credit regulator ordered Wonga to improve its compliance after finding it did not verify the income of customers.

Britain s financial regulator this month forced the company to overhaul its lending practices, leading it to write off the debt of around 330,000 UK customers worth about 6 million.

The British company s chairman, Andy Haste, has vowed to reform its strategy. Haste, the former head of RSA Insurance Group, joined in July, following the departure of chief executive Niall Wass.

Wass quit just months after taking on the role from founder Damelin. Damelin had remained on as a director until June this year, when he left Wonga.

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