Steve Wynn Had An Opportunity Zone Meeting After Divesting From Wynn Resorts
Flush with capital gains following his $2.1B sale of Wynn Resorts stock amid a wave of sexual misconduct allegations, Steve Wynn met with the U.S. Department of the Treasury to learn about opportunity zones.
The disgraced casino magnate met with Treasury Department officials last June to discuss opportunity zones, a program born from President Donald Trump's tax reform that enables investors to defer or deduct capital gains taxes by investing and holding onto assets in low-income areas.
The meeting came less than three months after Wynn was forced to sell his stake in Wynn Resorts following a series of sexual misconduct allegations, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The federal opportunity zone guidelines released in October show investors have 180 days — roughly six months — after generating capital gains to transfer those into an opportunity zone fund. Wynn’s OZ countdown clock would have begun in March after the sale of his Wynn Resorts stock.
Wynn initially met with Daniel Kowalski, a counselor to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, but Mnuchin later joined the meeting to say hello to the former mogul. The Treasury Department maintains the meeting was for educational purposes.
An ex-Treasury official told the WSJ Wynn requested the meeting to get a better understanding of the program. Meetings similar to the one Wynn had are often held with similar high-profile people like religious leaders, government officials and investors.
While the meeting with Wynn didn’t break any laws, it does show he still maintains a high level of access to the White House despite his downfall at his own company. Wynn donated heavily to Republican political candidates and previously served as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee but resigned in the wake of the sexual misconduct allegations.
Mnuchin regularly meets with political and business leaders about the program, but it is rare for him to schedule time with someone like Wynn, currently a private citizen not at the helm of a major company, according to the WSJ. While at a U.S. House of Representatives hearing Thursday, Mnuchin brushed the meeting off by saying the Treasury Department has meetings with “lots of people.”
Wynn was even less forthcoming. “Mr. Wynn has no interest in commenting on reporting by The Wall Street Journal,” Lin Wood, one of Wynn’s lawyers, told the paper. It first reported in early 2018 on the decades of Wynn’s alleged sexual misconduct, including against Wynn Resorts employees. The coverage led to Wynn stepping down from the company and set off a wave of ethics investigations, including one still open in Massachusetts.
The fate of the company’s $2.6B Encore Boston Harbor resort, currently under construction outside Boston, and whether it will be able to open in June, depends on the findings of the Massachusetts inquiry.
Wynn has maintained his innocence, and Wynn Resorts maintains it has severed all ties with its former leader and those closely affiliated with him on the executive team.