Donald Trump reportedly changed his mind about deporting a billionaire Chinese fugitive accused of bribery and rape after learning he was a member of his exclusive Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
The US president was in an Oval Office meeting in June when the case of Guo Wengui, a real estate developer, was brought up.
Guo fled China three years ago just before he was due to be arrested on a range of charges that included kidnapping, bribery and rape.
Trump was in the meeting to discuss Chinese foreign policy with a number of key aides including Vice President Mike Pence, son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, and former chief strategist Steve Bannon.
The commander-in-chief took charge of the meeting by saying he knew of at least one "Chinese criminal" the US needed to deport immediately, according to The Wall Street Journal.
"Where's that letter Steve brought?," Trump is reported to have asked. "We need to get this criminal out of the country."
The President then produced a letter from Beijing calling for the extradition of Guo, which had been handed to him by Steve Wynn, a casino tycoon with business interests in the Chinese casino city of Macau.
A spokesperson for Wynn told WSJ its reporting was inaccurate, but made no further comment.
Trump's aides managed to talk him out of the decision to deport Guo back to China, a country with which the US has no extradition treaty.
One of the key turning points in the arguments with the president came when his aides pointed out that Guo was a paid-up member of his Mar-a-Lago Florida resort, which costs $200,000 in initiation fees and $14,000 in annual charges.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions had also threatened to quit in the spring if Guo was forcibly returned to China, reported The Washington Times. Although it is unclear whether Sessions was present at the Oval office meeting in May, where Guo was discussed.
Guo has been a thorn in the side of the Chinese government since fleeing to the US in 2014, regularly broadcasting claims about Chinese corruption via webcasts and tweets, without providing evidence.
The Chinese billionaire lives in a $67.5m apartment overlooking Central Park, furnished with crystal chandeliers and a large Lego model of London Bridge.
In May, Guo was visited by four members of China's Security Ministry at his New York home, who tried to pressure him to stop making his accusations and return to China.
But the communist state officers had entered the US on visas that did not allow them to conduct official business. They were later confronted by FBI agents at New York's Pennsylvania Station and ordered to leave the country.
However, two days later the Chinese officials again visited Guo before flying back to Beijing. FBI agents were poised to arrest them at John F Kennedy airport, but the State Department vetoed the move fearing it might trigger a diplomatic crisis.