USA boycotts China telecom giant ZTE over Iran case
USA boycotts China telecom giant ZTE over Iran case
Secretary Ross Announces Activation of ZTE Denial Order in Response to Repeated False Statements to the U.S. Government
17 April, 2018, 20:24
The Commerce Department determined ZTE, which was previously fined for shipping telecommunication equipment to Iran and North Korea, subsequently paid full bonuses to employees who engaged in the illegal conduct, failed to issue letters of reprimand and lied about the practices to USA authorities, the department said.
The US government banned sales by American companies to China's ZTE Corp to punish the Chinese telco equipment maker for paying full bonuses to employees who engaged in the illegal sales of equipment to Iran, for failing to issue letters of reprimand to those employees, and then lying about it to US authorities.
ZTE's settlement with the USA followed a multiyear investigation into claims that it violated US sanctions against Iran and North Korea by selling electronics to those countries.
The move, first reported by Reuters, comes at a time when the two countries have threatened each other with tens of billions of dollars in tariffs in recent weeks, fanning worries of a full blown trade war that threatens global supply chains as well as business investment plans.
On its website, ZTE said: "ZTE is aware of the denial order activated by the United States Department of Commerce".
The company's initial guilty plea was met with up to $1.2 billion penalties and fines, along with the dismissal of four senior employees, along with more fallout for lower-level employees.
ZTE suspended trade on the Shenzhen and Hong Kong bourses on Tuesday as it became engulfed in the controversy.
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It also comes amid heightened tensions between the USA and China, which are now engaged in a tit-for-tat exchange of possible tariffs. "Many banks and companies even outside the USA are not going to want to deal with them", said Eric Hirschhorn, a former US undersecretary of commerce who was heavily involved in the case.
A senior department official said that the company "provided information admitting that they had made false statements".
The UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has warned that one of China's biggest telecoms infrastructure and smartphone firms is a national security risk. Trump on Monday accused China along with Russian Federation of devaluing their currencies, opening a new front in his argument that foreign governments are exploiting the U.S. Last year ZTE sold 46.4 million smartphones with half of the phones using Qualcomm chips. ZTE has purchased chips from Qualcomm Inc.
The U.S. action could be catastrophic for ZTE since American companies are estimated to provide 25 percent to 30 percent of the components used in ZTE's equipment, which includes smartphones and gear to build telecommunications networks.
The U.K.'s national Cyber Security Centre warns the telecommunication companies of the country that, "National risks from ZTE equipment and services can not be mitigated".
The ban on supplying ZTE comes two months after two Republican senators introduced legislation to block the USA government from buying or leasing telecommunications equipment from ZTE or Huawei, citing concern the companies would use their access to spy on US officials.
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