China's ZTE to pay USD1.19 bn for violating Iran, NK sanctions

In March of 2016, ZTE was placed on a list requiring US suppliers to obtain a licence to work with, but USA officials say the company could be removed from this list if the company agrees to pay fines and lives up to agreements with the US justice department. It has also agreed to pay another $300 million, suspended during a seven-year-period, if it does not meet the terms of the agreement, which includes the appointment of a corporate compliance monitor.

ZTE agreed to plead guilty to three charges, including obstructing justice for hiding information from government investigators, the officials say.

The ZTE has created strong partnerships with many US suppliers that supported almost 130,000 high-tech jobs, and it anticipated continued growth and business expansion over the next several years with its innovative leadership in 5G area, said Zhao Xianming, chairman and CEO of ZTE, in the statement. March 29. Commerce will endorse that ZTE be removed from the list of blocked companies if it complies with its deal and court approves its agreement with the Justice Department.

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Federal prosecutors accuse ZTE of shipping American "servers, switches, routers" and other cellular network equipment through China to Iran without obtaining the required export licenses from USA authorities. ZTE acted contrary to US national security or foreign policy interests, the Commerce Department said at the time. "They will suffer the harshest of consequences".

"ZTE Corporation not only violated export controls that keep sensitive American technology out of the hands of hostile regimes like Iran's - they lied to federal investigators and even deceived their own counsel and internal investigators about their illegal acts", Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

In order to improve its export control compliance, the ZTE has appointed new CEO and made major changes to the senior management team, according to the statement. But the whole matter has tarred the Chinese company's reputation and risked denying it access to USA tech suppliers, such as Qualcomm and Intel. "Instituting new compliance-focused procedures and making significant personnel changes has been a top priority for the company".

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The action marks the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control's largest settlement to date with a non-financial entity, according to a Reuters report.

Under the extensions, United States suppliers have been able to continue to supply ZTE with software, technology and components despite the Commerce restrictions. This move made it hard for ZTE to acquire US products such as chips and software.

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