Thursday, May 11, 2006

Albertino de Figueiredo

Moral dilemmas....

A very successful local entrepreneur whom I've met half a dozen times in the last two years, a man of substance and with a record of philanthropic deeds, is arrested following an investigation by the fiscal authorities. Front page news at the Financial Times (not to mention Spanish media). Horror stories of pyramidal schemes, billions of Euros in capital letters, hundreds of thousands of small investors who might have fallen for a junk brass Eldorado. A journalist from a news agency chats about reactions from people to the event. He asks me: "Can I quote you on that?". (And he was referring to the sense of stunned shock I and many others have felt). I think for a second and I tell him: "I would rather you don't". The phone conversation ends. Then, my moral dilemma starts.
Was I right in running away from controversy? Was it elegant to show myself eager to keep my distances? Isn't any man innocent until proved guilty? I have sensed a bitter taste since then, almost of cowardly behavior. I should have said : "Yes, you can quote me on that. I'm stunned at what happened. I am shocked. We are not talking about a dodgy character here whom one could have suspected that something might have been wrong with his business dealings. No, what we saw when meeting him was a rather modest looking septuagenarian with a incredible energy". So, in a way, by demanding off-record status, I failed a moral test. What would the Right Honourable Reader have done if in my shoes?

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