PROFESSOR ATUL K. SHAH www.atulkshah.co.uk
Globally renowned expert advisor and broadcaster on culture, accounting, finance, business ethics, holistic education and leadership
One of the BBC’s flagship intellectual programmes, the Moral Maze on Radio 4, invited me to provide expert comments on the morality of Sanctions in the Ukraine crisis, and in particular, the role of professional enablers like lawyers, bankers and accountants, in money laundering and plutocracy. This takes me back to my PhD days at the London School of Economics in 1993, where I focused exactly on this and the collusion between these professionals which undermines financial regulation and governance. At that time it was reported in the Financial Times, and I am very sorry to say that 30 years on, the problems have gotten worse.
My main comments were that every organisation needs a moral base, whether public or private. The history of professions shows that they were created not for the sake of profit or wealth maximisation and private interest, but instead to protect the public interest, with a strong moral and ethical code. I also spoke about the autocracy of modern multinational corporations, who have global power without any democratic accountability – none of us voted for Mark Zuckerburg, but we are subject to Meta’s power, fake news and social manipulation in the pursuit of highly commercial goals. I research and teach Corporate Governance – sixty of the world’s 100 largest economies are multinational corporations, NOT countries. They have huge influence on our social, economic and environmental futures. My research papers are available free to read or download here.
Fortunately, there are some exceptions of professionals who will say NO to clients in relation to egregious tax avoidance or money laundering schemes. I know some of them, and their clients end up respecting them for their moral stance – it is not always the case that they lose their business. Such professionalism increases trust in society, rather than depleting it.
After the broadcast, I received a number of emails and messages from the public, supporting what I said:
Your comments were very concise and pertinent – very well done, and thank you. I am not surprised by the public response.
Olive, BBC Producer
I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion, and you are so right to remind us of the public duty of professionals, which has long been forgotten, but is very pertinent
Sholto Moger, Business Director, Devon
It was very refreshing to hear that Economics was originally designed to serve the holistic needs of a civilisation, rather than determine them. ‘It is a servant to humanity, never a master.’ I had never come across your work before – to see you deliver such an enlightened message from deep inside the establishment provides tremendous solace – Thank You.