US Justice Department Wants Steve Wynn to Register as Foreign Lobbyist

Posted on: May 26, 2021, 04:26h. 

Last updated on: May 26, 2021, 04:49h.

Steve Wynn is denying that he ever lobbied the United States government on behalf of a foreign nation. But according to a new report, the US Department of Justice is readying a legal challenge to force the disgraced casino billionaire to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). 

Steve Wynn foreign lobbyist DOJ China
Billionaires Steve Wynn and then-President Donald Trump meet in Las Vegas in April of 2019. A new report charges that the US Justice Department wants Wynn to register as a foreign lobbyist. (Image: The New York Times)

The case stems from 2017, when Wynn, then still the chairman and CEO of his Wynn Resorts casino empire, allegedly pressured federal officials to extradite Chinese businessman Guo Wengui. China has sought the return of Guo since he fled in 2014. The People’s Republic has charged him with bribing, kidnapping, money laundering, fraud, and rape. 

Wynn, a longtime associate of then-President Donald Trump, was the national finance chairman of the Republican National Committee when he is said to have pushed the Justice Department to send Guo back to China.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the news that the DOJ under President Joe Biden is considering bringing a lawsuit to require Wynn to register as a foreign lobbyist. The legal challenge comes with no civil penalties, but would give the DOJ the power to force Wynn to comply. 

Wynn Disputes Lobbying

In a response to the WSJ article, lawyers representing the man often credited for transforming the Las Vegas Strip from a seedy gaming town into a glitzy, five-star destination rebuked the lobbying allegations.

Steve Wynn never served as an agent or lobbyist for China or anyone else,” said Wynn’s attorney Reid Weingarten. “He was merely a loyal messenger of information he received to our government.”

Guo welcomed the rumblings that the Justice Department is considering action against Wynn. 

“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 opined.

The Wall Street Journal is the same publication that essentially ended Wynn’s career in the gaming industry. It was January of 2018 when the media outlet published an expose detailing years of alleged sexual misconduct he committed. 

Wynn has always denied that he acted inappropriately with any female employee. But he nonetheless resigned from the company that bears his name a month later, and soon after sold-off his entire stock in Wynn Resorts. 

Possible Wynn Motive

Why would Steve Wynn try and have a Chinese businessman deported back to his home country? The WSJ didn’t provide a motive, but one could be that Wynn Resorts is heavily invested in China’s Macau.

Wynn has two integrated casino resorts in Macau — the world’s richest casino market. It opened Wynn Palace at a cost of $4.2 billion in in August of 2016. 

Wynn’s alleged urging of the US to extradite Guo came just months before Trump began imposing tariffs on Chinese goods, which angered China President Xi Jinping and led to a trade war. 

Some gaming analysts believed Xi might purposely hurt the three US-based casino operators doing business in Macau because of the tensions. Along with Wynn, the late founder of Las Vegas Sands, Sheldon Adelson, was a robust supporter of Trump’s political career. 

Wynn’s actions on behalf of China might have been a way to stay in the People’s Republic’s good graces. All six Macau casino licenses are set to expire in June of 2022.