Home » Steve Wynn may face Justice Department action for role in China’s push to expel businessman
Steve Wynn may face Justice Department action for role in China’s push to expel businessman
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The Justice Department has told casino mogul Steve Wynn to register as a lobbyist in connection with his 2017 efforts to obtain a diplomatic favor long sought by Chinese authorities, and is preparing to go to court to force him to comply, according to people familiar with the matter.
Prosecutors have gathered evidence about Mr. Wynn’s work in recent months in preparation for potential litigation if he doesn’t file any such registration, the people said. If filed, the case would be a rare civil court battle over registering under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The law doesn’t provide for civil penalties, but it gives the Justice Department the ability to seek a court order to force someone to comply.
In July, then-Attorney General William Barr warned that company executives who pushed policies at the behest of Chinese authorities could be required to register under the law, but the Justice Department hasn’t filed any such case.
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The dispute relates to Mr. Wynn’s alleged efforts in the summer of 2017 to convince U.S. officials to send back to China a Chinese businessman in New York, Guo Wengui, whom Chinese authorities consider a fugitive. Mr. Guo has been accused of a range of criminal offenses, from bribery to sexual assault, all of which he has denied.
Mr. Wynn has long denied wrongdoing in the matter. "Steve Wynn never served as an agent or lobbyist for China or anyone else," his attorney, Reid Weingarten, said. "He was merely a loyal messenger of information he received to our government."
"Any effort to pursue him in any way for this conduct would be both a miscarriage of justice and an unwarranted extension of the FARA statute," Mr. Weingarten added.
Mr. Guo, who remains in the U.S., said in a statement: "I am glad to hear the DOJ is investigating Steve Wynn and frankly believe they should criminally indict him for serving as a greedy spy of the Chinese Communist Party."
Mr. Wynn, a 79-year-old billionaire and friend and informal adviser to former President Donald Trump, is widely viewed as the architect of the modern Las Vegas Strip lined with luxury resorts. He resigned as chairman and chief executive of Wynn Resorts Ltd. in 2018 after The Wall Street Journal published an article detailing allegations of sexual misconduct by Mr. Wynn toward employees. He has said the idea that he ever assaulted any woman is preposterous.
Last year, two of Mr. Wynn’s associates admitted in plea agreements with the Justice Department that in June and July 2017, they had discussed Mr. Guo’s removal with Mr. Wynn, and helped facilitate calls between Mr. Wynn and a Chinese government official about Beijing’s desire for Mr. Guo’s removal from the U.S.
One of the associates, Elliott Broidy, also admitted that he was with Mr. Wynn on Mr. Wynn’s yacht in August 2017 when Mr. Wynn called Mr. Trump to ask about Mr. Guo’s status in the U.S. Mr. Broidy pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the foreign-lobbying law in connection with that and other work, but was pardoned by Mr. Trump on Mr. Trump’s final day in office.
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