DOJ Sues Casino Mogul And GOP Megadonor Steve Wynn To Register As Agent For China
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Topline

The Department of Justice on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against casino billionaire and former Republican National Committee finance chair Steve Wynn that would force him to register as a foreign agent, after Wynn allegedly lobbied the Trump Administration on behalf of the Chinese government to deport a Chinese political asylum seeker.

Key Facts

In a civil complaint filed in federal court in D.C., the DOJ alleged Wynn acted on behalf of the Chinese government and Chinese Vice Minister for Public Security Sun Lijun by transmitting to former President Donald Trump a request to remove the asylum seeker in 2017, meaning Wynn was required to disclose his activities under the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

The complaint did not name the asylum seeker, but the Wall Street Journal reported in 2017 that Wynn passed on to the Trump Administration a request from the Chinese government to deport dissident businessman Guo Wengui.

Former RNC finance chair Elliott Broidy allegedly acted as an intermediary between Wynn and Sun, the DOJ claimed, informing Wynn by text message that Chinese President Xi Jinping appreciated the casino magnate’s assistance (in 2020, Broidy pleaded guilty to FARA violations after he allegedly lobbied senior U.S. officials on behalf of China without registering as a foreign agent, though Trump pardoned Broidy hours before leaving office)

Though the DOJ ordered Wynn to register as a foreign agent in 2018, 2021 and 2022, he did not comply, making a court injunction necessary to ensure he follows FARA, the DOJ argues.

In a 2017 statement to the Wall Street Journal, a representative for the resort casino company Wynn co-founded denied that he had delivered a message on behalf of China.

Wynn did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes.

Tangent

Trump wanted to deport Guo at first, but his advisers persuaded him that Guo—who has lived in the U.S. since 2015—could be used as leverage against China if he remained in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reported in 2017, citing unnamed sources.

Key Background

Wynn helped design some of Las Vegas’s most iconic hotel-casinos, including the Mirage and Treasure Island, and he co-founded the development company Wynn Resorts, which currently has a market capitalization of $7.64 billion. In 2018, Steve Wynn resigned as CEO of Wynn Resorts and as RNC finance chair after dozens of women accused him of sexual misconduct. Wynn dismissed the allegations as smear tactics by his ex-wife Elaine Wynn, who was then the largest shareholder in Wynn Resorts. Wynn is a close Trump associate, and Wynn and his wife Andrea donated $1.5 million to support Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign.

Big Number

$3.3 billion. That’s Wynn’s net worth, making him the 884th richest person in the world, according to Forbes’ estimates.

Further Reading

“China’s Pursuit of Fugitive Businessman Guo Wengui Kicks Off Manhattan Caper Worthy of Spy Thriller” (Wall Street Journal)

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