The US Justice Department sued Steve Wynn, the former CEO of Wynn Resorts, on Tuesday to compel him to register as a Chinese agent and accused him of influencing then-President Donald Trump on behalf of Beijing in 2017.
Wynn’s attorneys refuted the charges, claiming that he had never served as a Chinese government agent and had no duty to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
According to the government, Wynn contacted Trump and others of his administration from at least June through August 2017 to relay a Chinese request that Trump cancel the visa of a Chinese businessperson who had sought refuge in the United States.
According to the department’s civil complaint, it encouraged Wynn in 2018, 2021, and April 2022 to register as a Chinese agent under FARA, but he refused. Wynn resigned as CEO of Wynn Resorts in early 2018.
“Where a foreign government uses an American as its agent to influence policy decisions in the United States, FARA gives the American people a right to know,” said Matthew G. Olsen, assistant attorney general for the department’s national security division.
The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. It is requesting a declaratory ruling that Wynn is required to register under FARA.
Reid Weingarten and Brian Heberlig, Wynn’s attorneys, said they disagreed with the department’s legal interpretation of FARA and were looking forward to establishing their case in court.
The Justice Department said in a statement that Wynn complied at Beijing’s direction “to preserve his commercial interests in Macau,” where Wynn Resorts runs a premium hotel and casino.
The request to terminate the businessperson’s visa was made by Wynn on behalf of Sun Lijun, a former deputy minister in China’s Ministry of Public Security, according to the statement.
It did not identify the Chinese businessperson in issue, but stated that he fled China in 2014 and was later charged with wrongdoing by Beijing.
According to the agency, Wynn relayed Beijing’s proposal to Trump over dinner and by phone, and had repeated contacts with senior White House and National Security Council officials about establishing a meeting with Sun and other Chinese officials.