The Justice Department has told Steve Wynn, former casino mogul and friend of former President Donald Trump, that he must register as a foreign lobbyist or risk a lawsuit brought by the U.S. government, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg reported Wednesday.
Prosecutors are prepared to take Wynn to court if he refuses to file under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg and the Journal. The decision is reportedly linked to Wynn’s alleged 2017 efforts to persuade U.S. officials to send businessman Guo Wengui, whom Chinese authorities consider a fugitive, back to China.
Guo, a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago golf resort, has been accused of bribery, fraud and money laundering, all of which he has denied. Last year, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon was arrested on Guo’s yacht off the coast of Connecticut after Bannon was indicted for fraud.
Wynn, a Trump business rival turned informal adviser to his presidential administration, had interests in the Chinese gambling destination of Macau in 2017 when he delivered a letter to Trump from Chinese officials about Guo, the Journal reported. Wynn has denied any wrongdoing.
“Steve Wynn never served as an agent or lobbyist for China or anyone else,” his attorney, Reid Weingarten, told the Journal. “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.”
FARA, enacted in 1938, requires any person representing the interest of foreign entities in the U.S. to disclose their relationship to the Justice Department. Such lobbyists must specifically identify which federal officials they meet with, and why and when — and how much they were paid.
In a statement to the Journal, Guo celebrated the Justice Department’s efforts.
“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,” Guo said.
Wynn, a 79-year-old billionaire, was a major player in the real estate development of the Las Vegas Strip, overseeing several top casinos in the country’s gambling capital, including the Mirage, Treasure Island and the Bellagio.
In 2018, he stepped down from his positions as CEO of Wynn Resorts and finance chair of the Republican National Committee amid accusations of sexual misconduct. He has denied the allegations.