U.S. sues to compel casino mogul Steve Wynn to register as agent of China

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The Justice Department on Tuesday sued Steve Wynn to compel the hotel and casino magnate and Republican megadonor to register as an agent of China.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in D.C., argues that Wynn, former chief executive of Wynn Resorts, leveraged his relationship with President Donald Trump and members of his administration to advance Beijing’s interests in 2017. The government said the complaint is the first affirmative civil lawsuit under the Foreign Agents Registration Act in more than 30 years — a sign of stepped-up enforcement efforts under the 1983 law.

Wynn, a former finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, is accused of relaying a request from a senior Chinese official asking that the Trump administration remove a Chinese national who had sought asylum in the United States. His activities, prosecutors assert in the lawsuit, included discussing Beijing’s interests directly with Trump during a dinner in June 2017 and providing the Chinese national’s passport photos to the president’s secretary. Wynn, the government argues, was acting at the behest of the Chinese official, Sun Lijun, then-vice minister for public security, as well as of the Chinese government itself.

“In so doing, from at least June 2017 through at least August 2017, the Defendant acted as an agent for foreign principals Sun and the PRC [People’s Republic of China] and engaged in political activities on their behalf in the United States,” the complaint states.

The Chinese exile is not named in the complaint, but prosecutors have previously identified him as Guo Wengui, who had left China in 2014 and was later charged with corruption. Information detailing the exile in the lawsuit also align with descriptions of Guo.

At the time, Wynn had significant business interests involving China, owning and operating casinos in Macao, and acted out of a desire to protect his business interests, the Justice Department alleged.

Wynn attorneys Reid H. Weingarten and Brian M. Heberlig of Washington-based Steptoe & Johnson said: “Steve Wynn has never acted as an agent of the Chinese government and had no obligation to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. We respectfully disagree with the Department of Justice’s legal interpretation of FARA and look forward to proving our case in court.”

Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen, who heads the Justice Department’s national security division, said the suit “demonstrates the department’s commitment to ensuring transparency in our democratic system.”

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“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,” he added in a news release.

Wynn was advised three times, beginning in 2018 and finally last month, to register under FARA but declined to do so, according to the complaint.

The magnate stepped down as RNC finance chairman in January 2018 and as CEO of Wynn Resorts the following month in the face of allegations of sexual misconduct, which he has denied. He…



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