The Bishop of Leeds is calling on the government to tackle what he describes as "dirty money" sweeping through the "sewers of London".
Rt Rev Nick Baines was speaking during a House of Lords debate on the Economic Crime and Transparency Bill. The Bill has been rushed through the House of Commons in response to the war in Ukraine and aims to make it difficult for people to hide their wealth in the UK, especially from overseas, including criminals and people wanting to hide illicitly acquired money.
Bishop Nick said while he welcomes the Bill, action should be taken as a "moral obligation" rather than because it is tactical:
"Culture is not cleaned up by one act or one reaction to a particular stimulus, albeit a serious one such as the invasion of Ukraine. Some months ago, the Foreign Secretary threatened that sanctions would be introduced if Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine. At the time, I thought that we should not be threatening that as a reaction to something else that happens. This stuff is immoral. The money that is sweeping through the sewers of London needs to be cleared up for its own sake, not simply as a bargaining chip in relation to Ukraine. If we are going to get rid of dirty money, we ought to do so because it is a moral obligation, not because it is a tactic.
"If money is dirty and people are - we keep hearing the word, corrupt -, is it that the money is indeed dirty and these people are indeed corrupt or is it just that the game has changed, so it is now convenient for us to label them in that way? They were not corrupt six months ago, a year ago or five years ago, that was just the reality of the world in which we lived. If it is just the game that changes, and therefore we react to that, I think we have an ongoing ethical, cultural problem. We are tactical, and that is all. If we are going to change the culture, we have to be led by conviction rooted in values, not simply the pragmatics of the particularity of the case we are dealing with."