The United States Department of Justice said in a Tuesday statement it is seeking to compel Steve Wynn, founder of casino group Wynn Resorts Ltd, to register under the U.S.’ Foreign Agents Registration Act as an “agent of the People’s Republic of China and a senior official of the PRC’s Ministry of Public Security.”
A press release added: “Wynn was advised to register as an agent by the department but declined to do so.”
Wynn Resorts is parent of Wynn Macau Ltd, which operates two casino resorts in Macau, a special administrative region of China.
The Justice Department’s press release said its legal complaint argued that “from at least June 2017 through at least August 2017,” Mr Wynn contacted the then-U.S. president, Donald Trump, and members of his administration, “to convey the PRC’s request to cancel the visa or otherwise remove from the United States a Chinese businessperson who left China in 2014, was later charged with corruption by the PRC and sought political asylum in the United States”.
Neither the department’s press release nor the legal complaint itself identified the individual concerned, but Bloomberg reported the person’s name as businessman Guo Wengui.
The released added: “Mr Wynn engaged in these efforts at the request of Sun Lijun, then-vice minister of the Ministry of Public Security. Mr Wynn conveyed the request directly to the then-president over dinner and by phone, and he had multiple discussions with the then-president and senior officials at the White House and National Security Council about organising a meeting with Mr Sun and other PRC government officials.”
The department press release said that during the time Mr Wynn “engaged in this conduct, Wynn’s company owned and operated casinos in Macau.
“The department alleges that Wynn acted at the request of the PRC out of a desire to protect his business interests in Macau.”
Mr Wynn stepped down from the Wynn group in February 2018, after facing multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, which he denied.
The group sought to distance itself from his reign, appointing new directors and even changing the name of its Boston, Massachusetts, project in the U.S., from “Wynn Boston Harbor” to “Encore Boston Harbor”.
The two Macau gaming properties still bear the founder’s name: Wynn Macau and Wynn Palace.
U.S. assistant attorney general Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division was quoted in the department’s press release as saying: “The filing of this suit – the first affirmative civil lawsuit under the Foreign Agents Registration Act in more than three decades – demonstrates the department’s commitment to ensuring transparency in our democratic system.”
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