Updated July 21, 2022 - 1:10 pm
Attorneys for former Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn on Monday asked a District of Columbia judge to dismiss a civil lawsuit from the Justice Department for Wynn’s failure to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
The Justice Department in May filed the lawsuit after repeatedly asking Wynn to register as a foreign agent after he delivered a message to then-President Donald Trump from a Chinese government official.
Wynn’s response to the lawsuit says there are three reasons why the case against him should be dismissed.
Through Washington attorneys Reid Weingarten and Brian Heberlig, Wynn said his obligation to file under FARA ended after he delivered the message from Sun Lijun, the former vice minister for public security in China, to Trump and he no longer had a relationship with the Chinese government.
He also said forcing him to register under FARA would violate his First and Fifth Amendment constitutional rights and that the Justice Department complaint did not meet the legal standard for triggering the need for registration.
FARA requires people to disclose to the Justice Department when they advocate, lobby or conduct public relations work in the U.S. for a foreign government or political entity.
The Justice Department has until Aug. 15 to respond to Wynn’s answer to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit is unusual in that it’s a civil complaint. Most cases involving a failure to register are prosecuted criminally.
The department alleges that Wynn acted as an agent to Sun Lijun and the People’s Republic of China in the summer of 2017.
The complaint says Wynn conveyed the country’s request for the U.S. to remove Chinese national Guo Wengui, who left China in 2014 during an anti-corruption crackdown led by President Xi Jinping that ensnared people close to Guo, including a top intelligence official. Chinese authorities have accused Guo of rape, kidnapping, bribery and other offenses, and have sought his return.
At the time, Wynn’s company owned and operated casinos in Macao. Justice Department officials allege he lobbied U.S. officials to protect his business interests there because the government had restricted the number of gaming tables and machines that could operate at Wynn’s casino. He was rescheduled to renegotiate the casino operation licenses in 2019, according to the complaint.
The Justice Department says it sent Wynn letters in May 2018, October 2021 and April 2022 informing him of his obligation to register under FARA.
Steve Wynn has since left Wynn Resorts, in 2018, and the retendering of the casino license in Macao has been delayed to this year and is being handled by the company.
Wynn’s court document seeking dismissal included a letter sent to the Justice Department by his attorneys in 2018 explaining why they did not think he was required to register under the law.