The US Department of Justice is suing casino magnate Steve Wynn in an attempt to force him to register as a foreign agent, accusing him of lobbying the Trump administration on behalf of the Chinese government.
Mr. Wynn, a billionaire who resigned from his company Wynn Resorts in 2018, has refused three requests in the past five years to register as a foreign agent, according to the DOJ.
The lawsuit against him was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking a declaratory judgment that he must file under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
Mr. Wynn reportedly lobbied then-President Donald Trump and other members of the administration in 2017 on behalf of Sun Lijun, a former vice minister in China’s Ministry of Public Security.
The Justice Department said Mr Wynn had filed a request from China to deport an unidentified businessman who had sought asylum in the United States after being accused of corruption by Beijing.
Mr. Wynn had approached Mr. Trump over dinner and over the phone.
Mr. Wynn also had “multiple discussions” with Mr. Trump and senior White House and National Security Council officials in an attempt to arrange a meeting with Chinese officials, the Justice Department said.
At the time, Mr. Wynn’s company owned and operated casinos in Macau, a special administrative region of China.
The DOJ said, “The department alleges that Wynn acted at the request of the People’s Republic of China out of a desire to protect its business interests in Macau.”
No other cases were alleged by the DOJ, but in a statement they said Mr. Wynn’s failure to register as a foreign agent “constitutes a continuing violation of FARA and, given the likelihood that its violation continues in the absence of legal action, a permanent injunction is necessary”.
Matthew G Olsen, assistant attorney general in the department’s National Security Division, said: “When 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 to know.”
Mr Wynn’s lawyers, Reid Weingarten and Brian Heberlig, said they disagreed with the department’s legal interpretation of FARA and looked forward to proving their case in court.
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