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08 June 2018, 10:43 | Austin Hogan
ZTE signs preliminary agreement to lift US ban
ZTE pleaded guilty a year ago to conspiring to evade us embargoes by selling USA equipment to Iran.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that ZTE will pay a $1 billion fine for its recent violations.
The telecommunications equipment maker has been on life support since a seven-year US ban was imposed in April, breaking a 2017 agreement reached after it was caught illegally shipping goods to Iran and North Korea. ZTE will pay a $1 billion fine, change its board and management, and put $400 in escrow.
The compliance team will be in place for 10 years and monitor "on a real-time basis" ZTE's compliance with United States export control laws, the Commerce Department said in a release announcing the settlement. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said publicly that "Both parties in Congress should come together to stop this deal in its tracks". We'll keep you posted. They must also post calculations of the usage of US -made components on a public website.
Others expect Trump to push back against the legislation. "This is a national security concern". They raised national security concerns about ZTE, a view shared by U.S. intelligence agencies and other countries.
Eric Hirschhorn, a former US undersecretary of commerce who had been involved in the ZTE case, said "the government is merely setting a price for doing business instead of giving them the punishment they deserve".
The company was found to have shipped its sophisticated telecommunications equipment to both nations and to have repeatedly lied to US investigators about its actions.
Ross was among those apparently caught off guard by Trump's demand to ease penalties on ZTE.
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The May ban came after the government determined that ZTE violated terms of its 2017 settlement by failing to fire employees involved with illegally shipping USA equipment to Iran and North Korea. It's certainly a good precedent for this situation.
"ZTE has flagrantly and repeatedly violated United States laws", Van Hollen said in a statement.
In April, the Chinese group was cut off from USA technology products for violating U.S. sanctions against North Korea and Iran - measures which threatened to put ZTE out of business. In an earlier settlement arising from that misstep, ZTE was supposed to give those responsible the heave-ho, but instead paid them bonuses.
ZTE has also been a big smartphone vendor in the US, with products sold by companies like AT&T (T), Verizon (VZ) and T-Mobile (TMUS).
Trump barged into the case last month by tweeting that he was working with President Xi Jinping to put ZTE "back in business, fast" and save tens of thousands of Chinese jobs.
The U.S. has reached a deal to lift sanctions on Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE.
Thursday's agreement was "a prerequisite for making broader progress", DeBusk said. The move was described as a "death sentence" by the company, which employs 70,000 people in China. Compared to the traditional slap on the wrist USA companies get when they are caught breaking the law, the Chinese certainly haven't got off lightly.
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