The US has accused retired casino mogul Steve Wynn of lobbying on behalf of the Chinese government and demanded that he register as a foreign agent.
Wynn is alleged to have lobbied former president Donald Trump to accede to Beijing’s request for the return of a businessman who sought political asylum in the US.
The Department of Justice is suing Wynn under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, known as FARA.
“Where a foreign government uses an American as its agent to influence policy decisions, FARA gives the American people a right to know,” Matthew Olsen, an assistant attorney general in the department’s National Security Division, said.
According to the complaint, from at least June to August 2017, Wynn contacted Trump and members of his administration to convey China’s request to cancel the visa and deport a Chinese businessman accused by Beijing of corruption.
The department said Wynn engaged in these efforts at the request of Sun Lijun, then a vice-minister of public security.
Discussed at White House
Wynn conveyed the request directly to Trump over dinner and by phone, and discussed the issue with Trump and senior officials at the White House, the department said.
The department did not name the businessman but multiple media outlets identified him as Guo Wengui, a Chinese businessman and prominent critic of the Chinese Communist Party living in exile in the US.
Guo had publicly criticised the party by doubting the integrity of an anti-corruption programme.
Wynn resigned from his gambling company in 2018 after being accused of sexual misconduct. He held licences to operate casinos in Macau in addition to the Mirage and the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
The Macau licences were due for renewal in 2019 and the department alleges that Wynn acted on China’s behalf to protect his business interests in Macau.
Guo filed for bankruptcy in the US in February, saying his assets totalled no more than $100,000.
- George Russell