Embattled Chinese tech firm ZTE narrowly survived after the U.S. Department of Commerce hit it with a $1 billion fine and forced changes to its business earlier this year, and. Now it is back in the news for negative reasons after it was judged to have broken the probation around a fine that it copped in 2017.
The company agreed to pay $892 million last March after pleading guilty to charges of violating U.S.-Iran sanctions — the same issue that triggered the initial ban from the Department of Commerce. A condition of that 2017 deal was that the company would be ‘monitored’ until 2020 to ensure against repeat offenses. That term has been extended by a further two years by a U.S. court — as Reuters reports — it had “falsely disciplined” employees who were part of the Iran trading activities.
ZTE had been required to terminate the senior members of staff and discipline the others involved.
ZTE disclosed the extension in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange. It added that the court-appointed monitor will also be given access to the same information as the monitor tied to the Department of Commerce. That means copmpany documents, information, facilities and personnel.
The company is the second largest provider of telecoms equipment in the world, it has over 75,000 employees and is suspected of close ties with the government. However, it is dependent on U.S-based companies for certain components which is why it is caught up in U.S. politics and regulators.
Before the fine earlier this year, it looked like the company was finished. The Trump administration banned U.S. companies from selling components to ZTE for seven years but the President himself spearheaded an unexpected reprieve that saw ZTE pay the fine and make operational changes. Trump’s move was part of a wider and ongoing trade war that the U.S. and China have fought out using trade tariffs.
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