On Tuesday, the Justice Department sued longtime Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn to force him to register as a foreign agent because of lobbying work he allegedly performed on behalf of the Chinese government during the Trump administration.
The department said it had repeatedly advised Vinna over the past four years to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), and is now suing because Win refused to do so.
Although the Ministry of Justice has stepped up efforts to prosecute people who do not register as foreign agents, officials have described the case as the first of its kind in more than three decades.
“When a foreign government uses an American as its agent to influence political decisions in the United States, FARA gives the American people the right to know,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen, head of the department’s national security department.
Representatives of the department did not immediately comment on why the department filed a lawsuit and not criminal charges.
On Tuesday, Win’s lawyers said they would challenge the lawsuit.
“Steve Win has never acted as an agent of the Chinese government and had no obligation to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act,” said lawyers Reid Weingarten and Brian Heberlig. “We respectfully disagree with FARA’s legal interpretation by the Ministry of Justice and look forward to proving our case in court.”
The complaint alleges that Wynn, who left his company Wynn Resorts in 2018 after several women accused him of sexual abuse, for several months in 2017 lobbied then-President Donald Trump and members of his administration to remove from the United States Citizen China, who has been accused of corruption in China and has sought political asylum in America. Attempts to deport him from the United States were unsuccessful.
It says lobbying efforts were made on behalf of high-ranking Chinese government officials, including Xing Lijun, then deputy secretary of the Ministry of Public Security, and included dinner and telephone conversations with Trump.
The complaint states that Vin was motivated to defend his business interests in China. At the time, his company owned and operated a casino in Macau, China. The Macau government has limited the number of gaming tables and slot machines that can be used at Wino Casino, the complaint alleges, and it had to revise its license to operate the casino in 2019.
FARA, adopted in 1938 to unmask Nazi propaganda in the United States, requires people to notify the Department of Justice if they speak, lobby, or do public relations work in the United States on behalf of a foreign government or political organization.
The complaint alleges that Win was involved in lobbying efforts by Eliat Brody, a prominent fundraiser for Trump and the Republican Party, who pleaded guilty in 2020 to an illegal lobbying campaign aimed at getting the Trump administration to abandon a multibillion-dollar looting investigation. from the Malaysian State Investment Fund and for his role in a secret lobby that sought to organize the return of a Chinese dissident living in the US Brody, was later pardoned by Trump.
Prosecutors do not name the dissident, but it coincides with Guo Wengui’s description. Guo left China in 2014 during an anti-corruption crackdown led by President Xi Jinping, which captured people close to Guo, including a high-ranking intelligence official. Chinese authorities have accused Guo of rape, kidnapping, bribery and other crimes and have demanded the return of the expelled tycoon.
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