the real case behind the movie “The Mail” that involves dozens of celebrities

“This movie is based on real facts”. so it begins The mailthe second most viewed feature film at the time this article was published.

Regulars of the platform and of Spanish films and series will quickly recognize several of its actors. There are Aaron Piper and María Pedraza, from Elite; Luis Zahera, from Entrevías; Luis Tosar, from Who kills with iron. All that’s left is to fill the cardboard.

Since the film addresses real cases and this note recalls one of them, perhaps it is worth clarifying that from here on there will be plot spoilers.

The argument of The mail It is located in a pivotal period for the Spanish and European economy. With changed names and archival material, Daniel Calparsoroits director, was inspired – among others – by an event that shook the honor of countless celebrities.

To narrate that event and many other similar events, a protagonist is tied, Ivan Marquez (Piper), a young man who goes from parking cars to working as a “courier” (as the messenger is called in slang) for an international organization dedicated to money laundering.

Iván sends briefcases with money to Belgium and Switzerland, entering deeper and deeper into a world of dirty finances from which no one is a foreigner. And Piper knows that very well. “Anyone who takes it for granted is going to find it funny,” challenged the Spanish actor in an interview with Europa Press.

One of the elements that holds The Mail to reality has a first and last name: Hervé Falciani. In the same medium as his protagonist, Calparsoro clarified that Falciani plays himself in the film and that in it “he gives an explanation of how all this works.”

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It is based on true events and stars Elite actor Aaron Piper.

But enough of the ambiguities. Let’s get to the point. To the case.

To begin to understand the superficiality of one of the events that The Courier borrows – in addition to the Gürtel plot, the Nóos case, the Malaya Operation, etc. – let us delve step by step into the conflict known in the media as “Falciani List” either “SwissLeaks”.

Who is Hervé Falciani?

“Mathematician, physicist, computer engineer and ‘informer’”. This is how the media outlet Ondacero describes the Franco-Italian Hervé Falciani.

Falciani worked for the multinational financial services company HSBC and became famous in 2015 for filter a list with 130,000 names of potential tax evaders with undeclared accounts in Switzerland.

He worked as a computer scientist at the bank’s Swiss subsidiary from 2001 to 2008. Specifically, there he was dedicated to reorganizing the entity’s database to strengthen its security.

Hervé Falciani is currently 52 years old and appears in the Netflix film. Photo: Clarín

Today he is 52 years old and believes that corruption continues to exist as in those years. About the film, Falciani said that the tax evasion she portrays through diamond trafficking “is a real method.”

Even corruption still stands. “The same corrupt people who are convicted or investigated continue to vote,” she said.

Falciani is proud to be an “insider.” He believes that knowledge is power. Consequently, he thinks that “an insider is a democratic counterweight” and that practicing his “profession” is “the only way to combat impunity”.

Calparsoro added: “He himself not only explained how it works, but he told us that it still works and that the European Union allows it. It is an open secret”.

-What is the Falciani List?

The “Falciani List” is – as its media name indicates – a list of 130,000 names of tax evaders that the computer scientist stole from the HSBC Private Bank in Geneva and made public. It helped more than 200 countries uncover cases of tax evasion.

The list arrived in certain emails one day in 2008 with the subject: “Tax evasion: client list available.” The sender, Ruben Al-Chadick, the nickname Hervé used.

Names and surnames were not immediately released. France shared the data with several jurisdictions and Spain carried out a massive tax regularization.

Falciani during a book presentation in Rome. Photo: ANSA

According to El Confidencial, most of the names were only made public in 2015 thanks to an investigation coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Le Monde, laSexta and Confidencial itself.

On the list there are individuals and legal entities from more than 200 different countries. Businessmen, nobles, figures from the entertainment world, drug traffickers, diamond traffickers, military men. “In total, they accumulated a little more than 102 billion dollarsabout 78,000 million euros at the exchange rate of 2007, the year to which these figures refer,” El Confidencial indicated at that time.

What celebrities appeared on the list?

As expected, there were well-known names and surnames that fell on the “Falciani List”.

Some are: Arleta Ricci (heiress to designer Nina Ricci’s fortune); the actor Christian Slater; the former singer David Bowie; the model Elle MacPherson; the former footballer Diego Forlan; the pilots Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso; the former tennis player Marat Safin; the musician Phil collins; the former singer Tina Turner; the motorcyclist Valentino Rossi.

The driver Michael Schumacher is one of the names that appeared on the list. Photo: AP

The lawyers or representatives of many of the personalities involved came out to give explanations about the appearance of their names on Falciani’s list.

Hervé Falciani, today

On December 22, 2008, the French-Italian stole the names from the bank’s records and fled with his wife and daughter to Nice, France. He had to leave Switzerland because violating banking secrecy is a crime in that country.

In France, the first thing he did was contact an inspector from the National Directorate of Tax Investigations to make known his information (which, a priori, he had planned to sell).

In 2015, when the names came to light, The Swiss Federal Chamber sentenced Falciani in absentia to five years in prison for espionage. But since Falciani was living in France at the time, he could not be extradited.

In 2017, Switzerland issued an arrest warrant and the following year, precisely on April 4, 2018, Falciani was arrested in Spain just before participating in an event. Police had been searching for him since March 19.

Hervè Falciani is free and lives in Spain. Photo: EFE

However, one day after his arrest, the judge of the National Court Diego de Egea released the computer scientist with precautionary measures: weekly appearance in court, delivery of his passport and prohibition from leaving Spain.

The Netflix movie The Mail ends with a legend that includes a mention of the case: “The ‘Falciani List’ uncovered 1.8 billion ‘opaque’ Spanish euros in Switzerland. The country needed a bailout from the European Union worth 58 billion euros. The public debt tripled. (…) Evictions multiplied. The cuts in health and education continue to this day.”

 
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