The Department of Justice sued casino mogul Steve Wynn on Tuesday, in order to force him to register as a lobbyist in connection with his attempts to attain a diplomatic favor for China in 2017.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the suit comes approximately one year after DOJ told Wynn that he must register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and hinted that it may sue to compel him to do so if needed.
DOJ stated in its lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Washington, that Wynn contacted then-President Donald Trump and members of the Trump administration about the favor in 2017, with the goal of protecting business interests in China’s gambling center, Macao.
Wynn allegedly tried, in the summer of 2017, to persuade U.S. officials to send a Chinese businessman in New York, Guo Wengui, who Chinese authorities consider a fugitive, back to China. Guo has been accused of numerous criminal offenses but has denied them.
The Journal adds that this lawsuit is the first of its kind ”in years.”
Matt Olsen, head of the Justice Department’s national security division, said that ”the filing of this suit — the first affirmative civil lawsuit under FARA in more than three decades — demonstrates the department’s commitment to ensuring transparency in our democratic system.”
But Wynn’s lawyers, Reid Weingarten and Brian Heberlig, said that Wynn was never acting as an agent of the Chinese government and therefore had no obligation to register under FARA.
”We respectfully disagree with the Department of Justice’s legal interpretation of FARA and look forward to proving our case in court,” they stated.
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