U.S. Accuses Steve Wynn of Lobbying Trump on Behalf of China

The Justice Department on Tuesday sued former casino magnate Stephen Wynn, saying he made repeated demands on behalf of the Chinese government of Donald J. Trump when he was president and sought to force Mr. Wynn to s register as a foreign agent.

In 2017, Mr. Wynn pushed Mr. Trump to deport a Chinese businessman who had sought asylum in the United States, according to the lawsuit. At the time, Mr. Wynn was the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, a role for which he was handpicked by Mr. Trump.

The lawsuit accuses Mr. Wynn of bringing up the subject on several occasions, including during a dinner with Mr. Trump and other administration officials in late June 2017, when he forwarded passport photos of the Individual to Mr. Trump’s Secretary; in unscheduled meetings with Mr. Trump in August of that year; and by telephone aboard a yacht off Italy. Mr. Trump told Mr. Wynn he would look into the matter, according to the suit.

The Chinese businessman is not named in the lawsuit, but is known to be Guo Wengui, a billionaire property mogul and vocal critic of the Chinese government insider who formed an alliance with Stephen K. Bannon, a former White House strategist for Mr. Trump. Mr. Guo fled China in 2014 in anticipation of corruption charges which he described as retaliation. The effort to return him to China ultimately failed, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also portrays Mr. Wynn as advancing his own interests in Macau, a region of China known for its casinos that was essential to Mr. Wynn’s business. Mr Wynn resigned as chairman and chief executive of his company, Wynn Resorts, in 2018 after being accused of sexual misconduct. He also resigned as the RNC’s finance chairman.

The Justice Department said it asked Mr Wynn to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act in 2018, 2021 and April this year, but which he had refused.

“Obviously I disagreed with the Justice Department, which is why I didn’t sign up,” Wynn said in a text message to The New York Times on Tuesday. He added that he would leave the matter to his lawyer and would not comment further.

The Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, requires individuals who lobby or provide public relations services for foreign governments to disclose such activities to the Department of Justice. The law had been largely unenforced for decades, but the department prioritized it under Mr. Trump’s administration.

According to the lawsuit, Sun Lijun, then China’s vice minister of public security, first approached three people in May 2017 with a request that the Trump administration revoke the Chinese businessman’s visa. The suit names Elliott B. Broidy, former RNC finance chairman and one of Trump’s top fundraisers; Nickie Lum Davis, another Republican fundraiser; and rapper Pras Michel. (Mr. Broidy and Ms. Lum Davis both pleaded guilty in 2020 to charges related to their role in a covert campaign to influence the Trump administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests. Mr. Trump pardoned Mr. Broidy shortly time before leaving office.)

In June 2017, Mr. Broidy forwarded Mr. Sun’s request to Mr. Wynn, according to the suit, and Mr. Sun later took the case directly to Mr. Wynn. Mr. Sun had told Mr. Broidy that he wanted Mr. Guo placed on the national no-fly list and his application for a new visa denied, the suit said.

After Mr. Wynn conveyed the request during a dinner with Mr. Trump in June 2017, Mr. Broidy told Mr. Wynn that Mr. Sun and Chinese leader Xi Jinping were grateful for his help. Mr. Wynn is also said to have mentioned his business interests in Macau during several phone calls with Mr. Sun.

In a statement, Matthew G. Olsen, assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s National Security Division, said this was “the first affirmative civil suit under FARA in more than three decades.”

“Where 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 know,” he said.

Maggie Haberman and Kenneth P. Vogel contributed report.

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