Court Battles

DOJ sues to compel Steve Wynn to register as foreign lobbyist

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is suing casino magnate Steve Wynn to compel him to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) as an agent of China.

The DOJ announced the civil suit in a press release on Tuesday, saying it had asked Wynn to make the registration but that he had refused.

The move is strikingly unusual. The DOJ said itself it was the first time it had taken such an action in more than 30 years.

“The filing of this suit – the first affirmative civil lawsuit under FARA in more than three decades – demonstrates the department’s commitment to ensuring transparency in our democratic system,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “Where a foreign government uses an American as its agent to influence policy decisions in the United States, FARA gives the American people a right to know.”

Wynn is the former CEO of Wynn Resorts and one of the most successful casino developers in Las Vegas history. He also has considerable holdings on the island of Macau, including the Wynn Macau.

Wynn has also been active in politics and served as a vice chairman of former President Trump’s inaugural committee.

The DOJ filed its action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and said that Wynn was previously advised to register as an agent but declined to do so.

It is accusing Wynn of being used by China to influence decisions within the United States. FARA registrations are required so that there is a public record and transparency when one is working on behalf of a foreign government.

The DOJ is specifically accusing Wynn of contacting Trump with a request that it said came from a Chinese official.

In the summer of 2017, the former Wynn Resorts CEO allegedly contacted Trump in an effort “to cancel the visa or otherwise remove” a Chinese businessperson at the request of Sun Lijun, the then-vice minister of China’s Ministry of Public Security, the DOJ stated. 

Wynn made his requests “directly to the then-President over dinner and by phone” and “multiple discussions with the then-President and senior officials at the White House and National Security Council about organizing a meeting with Sun and other PRC government officials,” the Justice Department said.

Previous reports indicated that the person in question was Guo Wengui, who has been residing in New York and left China in 2014 to seek asylum. He is considered a fugitive by China and has been accused of bribery and sexual assault.  

The DOJ alleged that Wynn made the request to enhance his casino efforts in Macau.

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