US accuses casino mogul Wynn of acting as Chinese agent

WASHINGTON, May 17 (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday sued Steve Wynn, the former CEO of Wynn Resorts (WYNN.O), forcing him to register as a China agent and accused him of pressuring then-President Donald Trump. at Beijing’s request in 2017.

Wynn’s lawyers have denied the allegations, saying he never acted as an agent of the Chinese government and “was under no obligation to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.” (FARA).

From June to August 2017 at least, Wynn contacted Trump and members of his administration to convey a Chinese request asking Trump to cancel the visa of a Chinese businessman who had sought asylum in the United States, the department said.

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The department’s civil suit alleges that he advised Wynn in 2018, 2021 and April 2022 to register as a China agent under FARA, but he refused to do so. Wynn stepped down as CEO of Wynn Resorts in early 2018.

“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 know,” said Matthew G. Olsen, assistant attorney general for the National Security Division. of the department.

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. He seeks declaratory relief that Wynn has an obligation to register under FARA.

Wynn’s attorneys, 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.

In a statement, the Justice Department alleged that Wynn acted at Beijing’s request “out of a desire to protect its business interests in Macau,” where Wynn Resorts operates a luxury hotel and casino.

Wynn forwarded the requests to cancel the businessman’s visa to the Trump administration on behalf of Sun Lijun, a former vice minister of China’s Ministry of Public Security, the statement said.

He did not name the Chinese businessman in question, but said the individual left China in 2014 and was later accused of corruption by Beijing.

Wynn relayed Beijing’s request to Trump over dinner and over the phone, and had multiple discussions with senior White House and National Security Council officials about arranging a meeting with Sun and Trump. other Chinese officials, the department said.

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Reporting by Rami Ayyub; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Howard Goller

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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