London: NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul has lamented over the status of Britain's financial bodies which were once perceived as world leaders in integrity, amid social disease of corruption that has plagued the country.
"Now they (financial institutions) are seen as world leaders in duplicity. While they are all still clamouring for their huge salaries and bonuses, not one person in the financial world has even apologised to the millions of people who were badly affected by the banking crisis six years ago," he said yesterday.
Delivering the Chancellor's address at the University of Westminster Graduation Ceremony, Paul said, "To my mind, the major challenge facing Britain today is the social disease of corruption that has plagued this country possibly for decades. Only now is it being exposed. When the truth emerges - as I hope it will - I believe it will have a seismic effect on British society."
Paul, also the Chancellor of Wolverhampton University, said: "Cozy and sleazy establishment practices have for too long exerted an undue and malign influence on the very institutions that are expected to protect us; institutions that are supposed to see that we are all treated equally and fairly. In many instances the watchdogs of society have become the predators, or allowed predators a free hand.
"These activities - whether they concern financial institutions and their arcane practices, or the more recently uncovered implications that paedophilia rings have shamefully operated for years at high levels - diminish our society and our system of government."
Paul, the Chairman of the Caparo Group, said: "British financial institutions were once perceived as world leaders in integrity. Now they are seen as world leaders in duplicity."
In a hard hitting speech, he said, "Our Parliamentarians and those who hold public office...Are the professed defenders of our morality.?Yet it seems that immorality has been condoned at the highest levels. Public trust in the pillars of our society has steadily eroded. A nation which tolerates this kind of malfeasance is a nation destined for decline."
"As the Governor of the Bank of England said just last week: it is simply untenable now to argue that the problem is one of a few bad apples. This issue is with the barrels in which they are stored," Paul said.
He said, "these are the challenges I would like to take up and where I am determined to play a part. It is challenges like?this that I urge you to confront. Young people of the new generation who are largely untainted by these malpractices will have to deal with?these problems as they enter the mainstream of life. If they do not, the corruption will grow and besmirch the great heritage of this country."
At the outset, Paul said the University has been awarded a grant of 600,000 pounds from the Department for International Development and the Wellcome Trust to develop a practical field test for Ebola.