Macquarie seeks to ban screening of film on relations with President
Macquarie Group’s South Korean investment unit is seeking a court injunction to ban the screening of a documentary on its alleged ties to President Lee Myung-bak, the firm said Monday.
The documentary, titled “Mac Korea,” will depict allegations that the Australian financial firm has expanded its presence in Korea using its relations with Lee and his family. Macquarie, which has reportedly invested some 1.78 trillion won in 14 projects to build major roads, tunnels and subways here, is feuding with Seoul, Incheon, Busan and other municipal governments over what the latter call unfair contracts.
Macquarie Korea Asset Management has informed the film’s director Kim Hyeong-ryeol of its plan to seek a court injunction and other legal measures to prevent its screening.
The documentary is about 70 percent complete and is scheduled to hit theaters in mid-October.
Kim recently released the trailer for the film, in which President Lee is described as an “ardent” supporter of Macquarie. The firm said the film is based on groundless rumors, and seriously distorted the facts.
Kim said he made the film to reveal “the truth” behind Macquarie’s construction projects in Korea. The movie contains an interview with Kang Hee-yong, a member of the Seoul City council, who alleged that the city government showed preference to Macquarie with business favors when it signed a contract to construct the Mt. Umyeon Tunnel in southern Seoul in 2005.
The deal was signed when President Lee was Seoul mayor and Lee Ji-hyeong, a son of his brother Lee Sang-deuk, a former lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party, was the chief of the Macquarie-IMM Investment Management, a former unit of the Australian group.
The documentary also shows a Macquarie executive telling South Korean lawmakers that President Lee visited his firm almost every week in the 1990s while Lee was staying in the United States.
Macquarie’s investment in 2005 in the construction of Subway Line 9 in Seoul is also controversial. In May, a civic coalition led by the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, called for a full-scale investigation into the construction, alleging that President Lee was behind the contract. Seoul City has so far spent more than 70 billion won to offset Metro 9’s losses, while its shareholders have received high dividends every year since it began operating in 2009, according to city officials.
Seoul and other municipal governments have claimed they have offset Macquarie’s operating losses, using taxpayers’ money, under disadvantageous terms in the contract. Some activists have described Macquarie as a “public enemy,” alleging that it has pursued excessive gains while refusing to take any risks.