The US says that Steve Wynn is trying to get Trump to do what China wants.
The Justice Department said that Mr. Wynn was a foreign agent because he worked as a middleman for the Chinese government. He must now register as a foreign agent.
On Tuesday, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against former casino mogul Stephen Wynn, saying that he had repeatedly asked Donald J. Trump to do things for the Chinese government when Trump was president. The Justice Department wants Mr. Wynn to register as a foreign agent.
The lawsuit says that in 2017, Mr. Wynn asked Mr. Trump to send back to China a Chinese businessman who had asked for asylum in the United States. At the time, Mr. Wynn was handpicked by Mr. Trump to be the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.
The lawsuit says that Mr. Wynn brought up the issue several times, including at a dinner with Mr. Trump and other administration officials in late June 2017, when he gave passport photos of the person to Mr. Trump's secretary, during unplanned meetings with Mr. Trump in August of that year, and over the phone while on a yacht off the coast of Italy. The suit says that Mr. Trump told Mr. Wynn that he would look into the matter.
The Chinese businessman is not named in the lawsuit, but he fits the description of Guo Wengui, a billionaire real estate magnate and outspoken critic of Chinese government self-dealing who joined forces with Stephen K. Bannon, a former White House strategist for Mr. Trump. In 2014, Mr. Guo left China to avoid corruption charges that he said were meant to punish him. According to the lawsuit, the effort to send him back to China failed in the end.
The lawsuit also says that Mr. Wynn was looking out for himself in Macau, a part of China known for its casinos that was important to Mr. Wynn's business. After being accused of sexual misconduct, Mr. Wynn stepped down as chairman and CEO of his company, Wynn Resorts, in 2018. He also quit as the head of the RNC's finances.
Under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, the Justice Department said it had asked Mr. Wynn to register as a foreign agent in 2018, 2021, and April of this year, but he had refused.
"I obviously didn't agree with the Justice Department, so I didn't register," Mr. Wynn told The New York Times in a text message on Tuesday. He also said that he would let his lawyer handle the situation and would not say anything else.
The Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, says that people who lobby for foreign governments or help them with public relations must tell the Justice Department about what they do. The law had mostly not been followed for decades, but the department made it a top priority while Mr. Trump was in office.
According to the lawsuit, Sun Lijun, who was the Chinese vice minister for public security at the time, first talked to three people in May 2017 and asked them to ask the Trump administration to cancel the visa of the Chinese businessman. Elliott B. Broidy, a former RNC finance chairman and one of Trump's top fundraisers, Nickie Lum Davis, another Republican fundraiser, and rapper Pras Michel are all named in the lawsuit. (Mr. Broidy and Ms. Lum Davis both pleaded guilty in 2020 to charges related to their roles in a secret plan to influence the Trump administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests. Mr. Trump gave Mr. Broidy a pardon just before he left office.
According to the lawsuit, Mr. Broidy told Mr. Wynn about Mr. Sun's request in June 2017, and Mr. Sun later made his case directly to Mr. Wynn. The lawsuit said that Mr. Sun told Mr. Broidy that he wanted Mr. Guo to be put on the national no-fly list and have his request for a new visa turned down.
In June 2017, Mr. Wynn told Mr. Trump about the request at a dinner with him. Mr. Broidy then told Mr. Wynn that Mr. Sun and China's leader, Xi Jinping, were grateful for his help. During several phone calls with Mr. Sun, Mr. Wynn is also said to have talked about his business in Macau.
Matthew G. Olsen, an assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's national security division, said in a statement that it was "the first affirmative civil lawsuit under FARA in more than 30 years."
"FARA gives the American people the right to know when a foreign government uses an American as its agent to try to change policy in the United States," he said.