LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Steve Wynn used his access to President Donald Trump and other administration officials to lobby on behalf of the Chinese government, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Announcing a civil action against Wynn, the Justice Department said it will use the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) for the first time in more than three decades.
Wynn is accused of making requests on behalf of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and a senior Chinese official to cancel the visa “or otherwise remove from the United States a Chinese businessperson who left China in 2014,” according to a Tuesday DOJ news release. The businessperson has been identified as Guo Wengui, a real estate tycoon living in exile in New York.
The contacts with Trump and other U.S. officials occurred “at least” from June through August 2017 and included dinner and phone conversations with Trump in his first year of office. Wynn had been instrumental in the Republican National Committee’s fundraising efforts as finance chair until he resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct at Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas.
Those allegations eventually led to the end of Wynn’s role at the resort he created
At one point, Wynn was advised by the Justice Department to register as a foreign agent, but he declined.
“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 G. 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.”
The government’s action is to compel Wynn to register as a foreign agent.
Wynn acted at the request of Sun Lijun, then-Vice Minister of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, according to the government.
“Wynn conveyed the request directly to the then-President over dinner and by phone, and he had 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,” according to the Department of Justice.
Wynn Resorts owned and operated casinos in Macau and the government alleges that Wynn acted at the request of the PRC out of a desire to protect his business interests in Macau.