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Casino tycoon Stephen Wynn wins foreign lobbying case

Steve Wynn, the prominent figure in the casino gambling industry, emerged victorious in an appeals court decision that dismissed a civil lawsuit filed by the US government. The lawsuit aimed to compel him to register as a foreign agent due to his involvement in advocating for the extradition of a Chinese billionaire.

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The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit upheld a lower court ruling on Friday, dismissing a civil lawsuit filed by the US government against casino tycoon Steve Wynn. The lawsuit aimed to compel Wynn to register as a foreign agent due to his efforts in advocating for the extradition of a Chinese billionaire during the Trump administration.

Since “Wynn long ago ceased acting as a foreign agent, he has no present obligation to register,” the three-judge panel wrote.

The lawsuit pertains to claims dating back to 2017, when Wynn notified then-President Donald Trump and members of the administration that China was seeking the extradition of billionaire Guo Wengui, who had been openly critical of the Chinese government. In May 2022, the Justice Department initiated legal action against the former CEO of Wynn Resorts Ltd.

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DC District Judge James Boasberg previously dismissed the government’s lawsuit, stating that the Foreign Agent Registration Act is only applicable to current violations, and it had been several years since Wynn was supposed to register. Wynn’s legal representatives have refuted the claim that their client engaged in lobbying for China.

Robert Luskin, a partner at Paul Hastings who represented Wynn, argued that the panel must uphold Boasberg’s ruling since it was bound by a previous DC Circuit decision on the interpretation of FARA.

Attorneys from the Justice Department cautioned that the ruling of the lower court could potentially incentivize deceptive tactics by individuals who may choose not to disclose their status as foreign agents, knowing that there will be no legal repercussions if they cease their activities on behalf of non-American entities.

The panel consisted of DC Circuit Judge Cornelia Pillard and DC Circuit Judge Patricia Millett, both appointed by President Obama, as well as DC Circuit Judge Karen Henderson, who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush.

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