Filek, the Scammer who Deceived Franco (Filek, el estafador que engañó a Franco)

The true story of the scammer who deceived Franco with a formula capable of turning water into fuel.

1939´s famished Spain was on the verge of becoming the world’s first oil power. At least this is what Franco then believed and the regime´s press would soon proclaim. An Austrian chemist named Albert von Filek, inventor of a synthetic fuel that mixed vegetable extracts with water from the Jarama river, had put his secret formula at Spain´s service, after rejecting the most generous offers from the big oil companies. The entire process was up and running very quickly: his company was one of the first to take advantage of the Francoist law to protect national industries, and a decree was immediately published in which large land was expropriated in his favor on the outskirts of Madrid.

Protected and praised by the regime, Filek enjoyed the admiration from the highest personalities. This is, of course, until a simple chemical analysis was done on his product and just as fast as it came, his fame came crashing down. The analysis revealed the scam he was trying to pull on the regime and immediately led to his imprisonment. Consequently, with Filek´s fall also came the fall of Franco’s hopes and dreams to become a powerful oil power.

Filek appeared in Madrid in 1931 and although by then he already had a long criminal history behind him, he was no more than a small swindler. The author has followed his trail through archives in half a dozen countries, until finally focusing on his period in Spain; a stroke of fate that briefly made Filek victorious, an individual with a knack for persuasion but little to no scruples.

His vicissitudes, which had begun in imperial Austria in the late 19th century, ended after World War II when he was,  essentially, handed over as an alleged Nazi to the Allied authorities in Germany. From the beginning of his criminal record after World War I up until his death in Hamburg in 1952, Albert von Filek was a witness, protagonist and even a victim of some of the most troubled episodes in the history of Europe of the last century.


RELEVANT DATA: Ignacio Martínez de Pisón has gained a legion of followers thanks to his prolific literary work, deserving of prestigious Awards such as the National Literature Award, the Critics Award, the Torrente Ballester Award, the Rodolfo Walsh Award and the Dulce Chacón award, among others.

Many of his works have been adapted audiovisually, to both film and television, as well as having been nominated to the Goya Awards. Among his most prominent works is his movie Back Roads (Carreteras secundarias) (which has been adapted in both Spain and France), Natural Law (Derecho natural) and the recent television series Tomorrow (El día de mañana), directed by Mariano Barroso. Additionally, he is the author of scripts such as Thirteen Roses (Trece rosas), by Martínez Lázaro and of the animated movie by Fernando Trueba & Mariscal, Chico and Rita.


AUDIOVISUAL POTENTIAL: TV series, Miniseries, Film, TV Movie.


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