The US Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Steve Wynn, the founder of Wynn Resorts. According to DoJ, Wynn was lobbying for the Chinese government and was making demands to Donald Trump while he was acting president.
China Sought Extradition of a Convicted Businessperson
The New York Times reported that China wanted the US to extradite a Chinese businessperson who was seeking political asylum in the US. The government used Wynn to lobby for its request to the Trump administration.
Moreover, the department noted that it requested Wynn to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) for more than four years. Since Wynn denied the request repeatedly, the department was left no choice but to file a lawsuit.
Matthew G Olsen, the DoJ national security division assistant attorney general, stated that the lawsuit is mirroring the department’s commitment to ensure transparency in the US democratic system. He also added that this is the first civil lawsuit under FARA in more than 30 years.
Olsen shed some additional light on FARA by stating that this act gives Americans the chance to know when a foreign government interferes in US internal affairs and uses an American to lobby and influence policy-making in the country. FARA was enacted in 1938 as a way to unmask Nazi propaganda across the US.
Wynn Was Motivated to Protect His Business Interests in China
According to the complaint, the former Wynn CEO, who stepped down after a sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against him, made efforts on behalf of the Chinese government to protect his business interests in China.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Chinese businessperson seeking asylum in the US is Guo Wengui. He fled China in 2014 after a major anti-corruption crackdown led to numerous people tied to Wengui being imprisoned.
Authorities also accuse Wengui of bribery, rape, and kidnapping and have sought his extradition since then. Wynn’s attorneys, Brian Heberlig and Reid Weingarten stated that they will contest the suit. They added that Wynn did not operate on behalf of the Chinese government and hence, had no obligation to register under FARA. They ended by saying that they are looking forward to proving the DoJ wrong in court.
The complaint states that lobbying efforts were on behalf of several Chinese government officials and these efforts even included conversations with Trump over dinner and by phone. During Wynn’s time as CEO, the company owned several casinos in Macau. Macau’s government wanted to limit the number of table gaming machines and slots that could be operated at Wynn’s casinos and as a way to protect his interests, the former CEO agreed to collaborate with the government.