June 17, 2024 3 min read

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US Government Loses Appeal in Steve Wynn Foreign Lobbying Case

The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower court's decision to dismiss the case

A federal appeals court has dismissed a civil suit filed against Steve Wynn by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) that sought to force him to register as a foreign agent, in a major legal win for the casino mogul. The lawsuit, which was brought in May 2022 and centered around events from 2017, alleged that Wynn had lobbied on behalf of the Chinese government.

Court Upholds Dismissal of Case Against Steve Wynn, Citing Lack of Continuing Violations

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — comprised of Judges Cornelia Pillard, Patricia Millett and Karen Henderson — upheld a previous ruling by District Judge James Boasberg to throw out the case, as reported by Bloomberg. The panel argued that because Wynn had stopped any alleged activities as an agent years ago, he did not have to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). It said in its opinion that even if the government’s allegations were taken as true, Wynn’s actions as a foreign agent had ended so there was no need for current registration.

The accusations against Wynn date back to 2017 when he allegedly lobbied then-President Donald Trump and other administration officials to extradite Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, who is a vocal critic of Beijing. The DOJ’s suit was the first civil action under FARA in more than three decades and marked an effort by the department to address undisclosed foreign influence in America.

Wynn, who is the former CEO of Wynn Resorts and has been active in Republican politics for years, has denied acting on behalf of Beijing. His lawyers — led by Robert Luskin of Paul Hastings LLP — argued that the case was baseless and pointed out that the relevant statute required continuing violations for registration mandates such as those presented by this case. 

Appeals Court Decision Deals Blow to DOJ’s Efforts to Clamp Down on Undisclosed Foreign Influence

However, the DOJ voiced fears that if this ruling stands it could open the door for “gamesmanship” where people evade registration requirements by ending their foreign activities before any civil penalties could be imposed. But despite these concerns, a three-judge panel backed dismissal which represents a setback to the DOJ’s recent enforcement drive against undisclosed lobbying work by foreign powers in America.

The outcome of the case also shines the spotlight on Guo Wengui, a Chinese billionaire who sits at the center of all these allegations. Guo has been living in self-imposed exile since 2014 when he fled corruption charges in his homeland which were politically motivated according to him. 

Since then he has become a major player within right-wing US circles and close associate of Steve Bannon. However, his own legal issues culminated with an arrest by federal agents last month on charges relating to defrauding over $1 billion from online followers.

To date, the DOJ has not issued a statement regarding this appeal court ruling. 

Author

Silvia has dabbled in all sorts of writing – from content writing for social media to movie scripts. She has a Bachelor's in Screenwriting and experience in marketing and producing documentary films. With her background as a customer support agent within the gambling industry, she brings valuable insight to the Gambling News writers’ team.

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