Former Wynn Resorts CEO

Appeals court sides with Steve Wynn over lobbying case, blocks DOJ's attempt to revive charges

Reading time 1:17 min

A federal appeals court in Washington has denied the Justice Department's request to reinstate charges against former Wynn Resorts chairman and CEO Steve Wynn for failing to register as a foreign agent in 2017.

The three-judge panel affirmed a lower court's ruling that Wynn was not obligated to register as a lobbyist when he advised then-President Donald Trump on matters related to China. The court agreed that because Wynn was no longer acting in that capacity, registration was unnecessary.

In May 2023, the Justice Department appealed District Court Judge James Boasberg’s decision that Wynn did not have to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). Boasberg ruled that the government could not compel Wynn to register years after the alleged lobbying had occurred.

The government argued in its appeal that requiring Wynn to register would prevent individuals from avoiding registration, as they would face no civil penalty once they stop acting on behalf of a foreign citizen.

The Justice Department sued Wynn in May 2022 after he repeatedly refused to register as a foreign agent following his delivery of a message to then-President Trump from a Chinese government official.

Both Wynn and the Justice Department indicated in filings with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that they did not expect to reach a settlement.

Wynn, who stepped down from Wynn Resorts in 2018 amid a sexual harassment scandal, has maintained that he is a private citizen no longer subject to business regulations.

Wynn argued that he was not lobbying when he informed the Trump administration that China wanted the United States to extradite Guo Wengui, a wealthy exile critical of the Chinese government.

The original Justice Department lawsuit alleged that Wynn acted to protect his casino operations in Macao when he conveyed China’s position on Guo to Trump. Wynn’s attorneys stated he relayed the message from Sun Lijun, then the vice minister of China’s Ministry of Public Security, as a diplomatic gesture, which Trump ultimately declined.

Leave your comment
Subscribe to our newsletter
Enter your email to receive the latest news
By entering your email address, you agree to Yogonet's Condiciones de uso and Privacy Policies. You understand Yogonet may use your address to send updates and marketing emails. Use the Unsubscribe link in those emails to opt out at any time.