The Justice Department sued former Wynn Resorts CEO Stephen Wynn to register as a federal agent for allegedly encouraging former President Donald Trump to cancel the visa of a Chinese businessman. File Photo by Ron Sachs/UPI | License Photo
May 17 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday sued former casino magnate Stephen Wynn to register as a foreign agent.
Wynn in 2017 pushed then-President Donald Trump and members of his administration to cancel the visa or otherwise remove a Chinese businessman seeking asylum in the United States at the request of China's government and Sun Kijun, who served as China's vice minister for public security at the time, the lawsuit states.
"In so doing, from at least June 2017 through at least August 2017, the 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 suit said.
The Justice Department said it had asked Wynn to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, which requires people who lobby or provide public relations or services for foreign governments to disclose such activities to the government in 2018, 2021 and April of this year, but he refused.
"Steve Wynn has never acted as an agent of the Chinese government and had no obligation to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act," Wynn attorneys Reid H. Weingarten and Brian M. Heberlig said, according to The Washington Post. "We respectfully disagree with the Department of Justice's legal interpretation of FARA and look forward to proving our case in court."
The Justice Department did not identify the businessman, but he is known to be Guo Wengui, a billionaire real estate magnate and critic of the Chinese government. He fled China in 2014 and was later charged with corruption.
Wynn raised the matter with Trump several times, including at a dinner with the then-president and other officials in late June 2017 when he passed along passport photos of Guo to Trump's secretary, during other unscheduled meetings in August of that year and by phone while aboard a yacht off the coast of Italy.
Trump told Wynn he would look into the matter, according to the suit.
The Justice Department noted that Wynn brought up the issue to Trump even though he "had no prior connection to the PRC national or independent interest in his removal," alleging that he sought to protect his business interests in China, which included owning and operating casinos in Macao.
Wynn was CEO of Wynn Resorts and finance chairman of the Republican National Convention at the time. He stepped down from both roles in 2018 after he was accused of sexual misconduct.
The suit alleges that Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy, who served as deputy RNC finance chairman under Wynn, initially passed the request from China onto Wynn before Sun ultimately approached him directly. Broidy pleaded guilty in October 2020 to acting as an unregistered foreign agent.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen said the lawsuit "demonstrates the department's commitment to ensuring transparency in our democratic system."