Justice Department loses foreign agent case against casino mogul Steve Wynn

A federal appeals court threw out the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) foreign agent case against Steve Wynn, former Wynn Resorts CEO and finance chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC), on Friday.

The DOJ filed a civil suit against Wynn in May 2022, trying to compel him to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), a transparency statute that requires agents of foreign interests seeking to sway U.S. policy or the public to disclose certain information.

Wynn pressed then-President Trump and other administration officials in 2017 to extradite Chinese businessman Guo Wengui, a critic of the government who had sought asylum in the U.S., the DOJ lawsuit alleged.

The Wynn case was the first civil suit brought under FARA in more than three decades, the government said at the time.

But the casino mogul denied acting as a foreign agent for China, and a lower court dismissed the case in fall 2022.

A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision.

“Even accepting the government’s allegations as true, Wynn long ago ceased acting as a foreign agent, he has no present obligation to register,” the judges wrote.

“Without commenting on the specifics, we are delighted with the result. It is a well-deserved finish to a long ordeal for our client,” said Bob Luskin, a partner at Paul Hastings LLP who led Wynn’s defense team.

The Friday decision is a blow to the Justice Department’s heightened enforcement actions to root out undisclosed foreign influence in the U.S. in recent years.

The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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