Steve Wynn: DOJ sues casino mogul asking him to register as China’s foreign agent

The complaint alleges that Wynn worked as an agent on behalf of the People’s Republic of China and a former PRC official, Sun Lijun.

“Specifically, at Sun’s request and on behalf of the PRC, Defendant conveyed to former President Donald J. Trump and his administration (“the Trump Administration”) the PRC’s request to remove from country a PRC national who had sought political asylum in the United States,” said the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in DC federal court. “In doing so, from at least June 2017 through at least August 2017, Defendant acted as an agent for foreign principals Sun and the PRC and engaged in political activities on their behalf in the United States. ”

The Justice Department said it sent letters to Wynn in May 2018, October 2021 and April 2022 informing him of his requirement to register under FARA, and is now seeking a court injunction compelling Wynn to do so. The decision to use a civil suit to compel a FARA registration is extremely rare, and according to the DOJ press release disclosing the complaint, this is the first time in three decades that the Department has filed this type of affirmative civil suit.

The DOJ argues that Wynn, in his alleged work on behalf of the PRC, was motivated “by his desire to protect his business interests” in China, with prosecutors pointing specifically to the casinos Wynn operated in Macau.

Wynn’s attorneys, in a statement Tuesday to CNN, denied he ever acted as an agent of the Chinese government and said he was under no obligation to register with FARA.

“We respectfully disagree with the Department of Justice’s legal interpretation of FARA and look forward to proving our case in court,” Wynn attorneys Reid H. Weingarten and Brian M. Heberlig said.

The complaint alleges that Wynn was asked in June 2017 to assist in the lobbying effort of Elliott Broidy, who, like Wynn, is a former finance chairman for the Republican National Committee.

“Broidy told the defendant that the PRC national was a wanted PRC criminal hiding in the United States, that the PRC wanted him arrested and that his visa was soon to expire,” the complaint states. . “Broidy advised Defendant that Broidy had received this information from Sun from the PRC Ministry of Public Security and that Sun had requested Defendant’s assistance in bringing the matter to the attention of the Trump Administration.”

Broidy pleaded guilty in 2020 to one count of conspiracy, in a case involving both the effort to deport the PRC national and a separate effort to stop a criminal investigation into massive fund fraud Malaysian investment.

The new civil lawsuit against Wynn recounts texts Wynn’s wife allegedly received and sent on his behalf about the alleged lobbying effort.

“During a dinner on or about June 27, 2017, with then-President Trump and other administration officials in Washington, D.C., Respondent conveyed to then-President Trump the desire for the PRC to have the PRC national deported from the United States and provided the PRC with the national’s passport photos to then-President Trump’s secretary,” the complaint states.

The complaint cites a text from Broidy sent after dinner to Wynn, via Wynn’s wife, in which Broidy said Sun was “extremely pleased and said President Xi Jinping appreciates [the Defendant’s] assistance.”

In addition to other alleged texts from Broidy expressing Sun’s gratitude for Wynn’s assistance, the complaint states that Wynn had several calls with Sun regarding the renewal of the PRC national’s visa.

“The defendant mentioned his business interests in Macau to Sun during several phone calls,” the complaint states.

Additionally, the DOJ alleges that Wynn repeatedly brought up the PRC national in conversations with White House officials and in at least one meeting with Trump himself, as well as in a phone call. that Wynn and Broidy had with Trump from Broidy’s yacht.

“Efforts to have the PRC national removed were ultimately unsuccessful,” the complaint states. “Sun continued to contact Defendant until approximately October 2017, when Defendant informed Sun that it had advised U.S. government officials of the request, that Defendant was no longer able to provide further information. support and that Sun should stop contacting them.”

In 2018, Wynn resigned as general manager of Wynn Resorts and finance chairman of the RNC amid allegations of sexual misconduct at his casino company. Wynn denied the allegations.

CNN’s Kara Scanell contributed reporting.

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