WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – The Justice Department sued Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn on Tuesday for forcing him to register as a foreign agent because it says he acted at the behest of the Chinese government during the Trump administration. had worked on.
The department said it had repeatedly advised Wynn to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, or FARA, over the past four years, and is now suing because Wynn refused to do so.
Although the Justice Department has stepped up efforts to criminalize people who are not registered as foreign agents, officials described the case as the first of its kind in more than three decades.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen, chief of the department’s National Security Division, said in a statement, “While a foreign government uses an American as its agent to influence policy decisions in the United States, FARA allows the American people to gives the right to know.” ,
A spokesman for the department declined to comment on why the department pursued criminal charges instead.
Wynn’s lawyers said Tuesday they would fight the case.
“Steve Wynn has never acted as an agent of the Chinese government and was under no obligation to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act,” said a statement by attorneys Reid Weingarten and Brian Heberlig. “We respectfully disagree with the Justice Department’s legal interpretation of FARA and look forward to proving our case in court.”
The complaint alleges that Wynn, who stepped down from his company Wynn Resorts in 2018 after several women accused him of sexual misconduct, in 2017 sought to expel then-President Donald Trump and members of his administration from the United States. lobbied for several months. Chinese national who was accused of corruption in China and was seeking political asylum in the US. Attempts to expel the man from America were ultimately unsuccessful.
The lawsuit states that the lobbying attempt was carried out by senior Chinese government officials, including Sun Lijun, then deputy minister of the Ministry of Public Security, who helped Wyan try to deny the Chinese national’s new visa application. Was asked Grievance
The lobbying effort also included phone conversations with Trump over dinner, and several visits to the White House for apparently unscheduled meetings with the issue were discussed.
The complaint states that Wynn was motivated to protect his business interests in China. At the time, his company owned and operated casinos in the Chinese territory of Macau. The Justice Department says the government in Macau restricted the number of gaming tables and machines that could be operated at Wynn’s casinos, and asked them to renegotiate a license to operate the casino in 2019. was scheduled.
FARA, enacted in 1938 to expose Nazi propaganda in the United States, requires that when people advocate, lobby, or perform public relations work in the United States on behalf of a foreign government or political entity, they must report to the Department of Justice. Reveal it.
The complaint alleges that Wynn was dragged into a lobbying effort by Elliot Brody, a major fundraiser for Trump and the Republican Party, who in 2020 ordered the Trump administration to drop an investigation into a multibillion-dollar robbery with an illegal lobbying effort. Convicted in the campaign. of a Malaysian state investment fund and for his role in a covert lobbying effort that sought to arrange the return of a Chinese dissident living in the US
Trump later pardoned Brody at the end of his administration.
The dissident was not referred to by name by prosecutors, but it matches Guo Wengui’s description. Guo left China in 2014 during an anti-corruption crackdown led by President Xi Jinping, in which people close to Guo, including a top intelligence official, were implicated. Chinese authorities have accused Guo of rape, kidnapping, bribery and other crimes and demanded the return of the self-exiled tycoon.
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