The US Department of Justice has told former casino boss Steve Wynn to register as a foreign lobbyist in relation to his efforts in 2017 to obtain a diplomatic favor on behalf of China.
Federal authorities are also ready to go to court if the businessman fails to comply, according to people familiar with the matter.
The people, who asked not to be identified, explained that prosecutors have collected evidence about Mr. Wynn’s involvement to prepare for potential litigation, if he fails to file for registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
Under FARA, passed back in 1938, any person that represents the interest of foreign governments and other entities in the US must disclose their relationship to the Department of Justice. These people are also required to make public all of their activities on behalf of the foreign entities and how much they were paid, if they received any money for their work.
The Justice Department’s dispute with the former casino magnate stems from his efforts in mid-2017 to convince US officials to send back to China Guo Wengui, a Chinese businessman who was in New York at the time, as he was considered a fugitive in his homeland.
Mr. Guo fled his home country in late 2014 after he was charged with corruption, bribery, fraud, and sexual assault. He has denied all of these.
Associates Admit Mr. Wynn’s Involvement
Two of Mr. Wynn’s associates admitted last year in DOJ plea agreements that in the summer of 2017 they discussed with the businessman Mr. Guo’s removal from the US and that they helped facilitate calls during which Mr. Wynn was able to discuss Mr. Guo’s removal with a Chinese government official.
One of the two associates, Elliott Broidy, also told federal authorities that he was with Mr. Wynn on his yacht in August 2017 when the businessman called former US President Donald Trump to discuss Mr. Guo’s status in the US.
Mr. Broidy pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate FARA, but was pardoned by Mr. Trump on his final day at the helm of the US.
He further told federal authorities that China had promised to help the US with North Korea and other issues in the region in exchange for Mr. Guo’s removal from the country.
Mr. Wynn being eyed by the Justice Department is the latest in a series of legal and other disasters he has been at the center of in recent years. In early 2018, the businessman quit Wynn Resorts, the casino powerhouse he had established, after a bombshell report by the Wall Street Journal detailing a decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct and harassment by Mr. Wynn.
The disgraced magnate has maintained his innocence and has dismissed all allegations that he has subjected Wynn Resorts employees to unwanted sexual advances as “preposterous.”
Of the DOJ’s actions against the businessman, his attorney, Reid Weingarten, said that his client “never served as an agent or lobbyist for China or anyone else” and that he was “merely a loyal messenger of information he received to our government.”
Mr. Guo is still in the US. He said in a statement that he is “glad to hear the DOJ is investigating Steve Wynn” and that he frankly believes “they should criminally indict him for serving as a greedy spy of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Source: Steve Wynn May Face Justice Department Action for Role in China’s Push to Expel Businessman, Wall Street Journal, May 26, 2021
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