Casino tycoon Steve Wynn accused by US of lobbying on behalf of China
The US Department of Justice has sued to force former casino magnate Steve Wynn to register as a foreign agent and accused him of lobbying the Trump administration on behalf of the Chinese government .
The lawsuit filed Tuesday says Wynn lobbied then-President Donald Trump and members of his administration in 2017 to secure a request from Beijing to deport an unnamed businessman who left China. in 2014 and requested political asylum in the United States.
A person familiar with the matter confirmed that it was Guo Wengui, a Chinese businessman and prominent critic of the Chinese Communist Party living in exile in the United States. Guo was at the center of Chinese political drama in 2017, when he publicly criticized the Chinese Communist Party via social media, casting doubt on the integrity of Beijing’s anti-corruption purge, which was led by Vice-President Chinese President Wang Qishan on behalf of the President. Xi Jinping.
Wynn, the billionaire casino magnate who resigned from his company in 2018 over accusations of sexual misconduct, has refused three previous applications to register as a foreign agent, the Justice Department said. During his career, Wynn had held licenses to operate casinos in Macau in addition to his well-known Las Vegas casinos such as the Mirage and Bellagio.
According to the DoJ, Wynn’s alleged lobbying activity took place in the summer of 2017, shortly after the government of Macau, China’s gambling hub, restricted the number of gaming tables and machines that his casino could exploit. Prosecutors noted that Wynn had to renegotiate its casino licenses in 2019.[Wynn’s] his conduct was motivated by his desire to protect his business interests,” the Justice Department said in the complaint.
The complaint did not specify any further instances of Wynn lobbying on behalf of China after the alleged incidents in June and August 2017, but said its refusal to register “constitutes a continuing violation of [the Foreign Agents Registration Act] and given the likelihood that this violation will continue in the absence of legal action, a permanent injunction is necessary”.
Matthew Olsen, assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s National Security Division, said the ruling against Wynn was the first civil lawsuit under Fara to be filed in 30 years.
“Where a foreign government uses an American as an agent to influence policy decisions in the United States, Fara gives the American people the right to know,” Olsen said.
Lawyers representing Wynn, 80, said he ‘never acted as an agent of the Chinese government and was under no obligation to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act’ , adding that they disagreed with the Department of Justice and looked forward “to proving our case in search”.
The DoJ alleged that Wynn was working on behalf of Sun Lijun, China’s former vice minister of public security, and the People’s Republic of China when he told Trump officials about the deportation request.
In May 2017, Sun asked Elliott Broidy, the former Republican National Committee finance chairman, and others to raise the request with the Trump administration, according to the complaint. The following month, Broidy asked Wynn to help with his lobbying efforts, he said.
“Broidy believed that [Wynn’s] business connections in the PRC and friendship with then-President Trump would be helpful in gaining access to Trump administration officials,” according to court documents.
Broidy previously pleaded guilty to raping Fara and was later pardoned by Trump when he left office.
After a phone call with Sun in June 2017, Wynn agreed to raise the matter with Trump, a former casino owner himself, according to the complaint. Later that month, Wynn discussed the matter with Trump and other administration officials at a dinner in Washington, according to the complaint, and gave the person’s passport photos to the Secretary of State. President.
Wynn had several calls that summer with Sun, who insisted that the Chinese businessman’s U.S. visa not be renewed, while Wynn discussed his business interests in Macau in several phone calls, according to the complaint. Wynn also discussed the case with Trump, including during a phone call from Broidy’s yacht on a cruise in Italy, prosecutors said.
In the fall, however, Wynn told a Sun associate he was unable to provide further assistance and asked her to stop contacting him, prosecutors said in the complaint.
“[A]As a private citizen, I believe I have exhausted the benefits of my position,” Wynn wrote in a text, according to the complaint. “If there is any other aspect of this situation that may come to mind in the future, I would of course be eager to assist you. I remain grateful for the privilege of being part of the Macau business community. and the PRC.