Chinese company signed for Digicel upgrade faces fines of $1.2bn

Mar 08, 2017, 00:36
Chinese company signed for Digicel upgrade faces fines of $1.2bn

ZTE entered a guilty plea over the charges, which include violating export controls meant to keep sensitive US technology away from the Iranian government, the U.S Department of Justice said on Tuesday. It is the largest criminal fine for the Justice Department in an export control or sanctions case.

ZTE also agreed to an additional penalty of $300 million to the Commerce Department that will be suspended during a seven-year term on the condition the company complies with requirements in the agreement.

He added: "This plea agreement holds them accountable, and makes clear that our government will use every tool we have to punish companies who would violate our laws, obstruct justice and jeopardise our national security".

According to court documents, ZTE obtained the banned goods, including cellular network equipment, over a six-year period and shipped them to customers in Iran, knowing that the sales violated the sanctions.

Following the settlements, The Bureau of Industry and Security under the U.S. Commerce Department will recommend that the ZTE be removed from the Entity List, said the ZTE in its Tuesday statement. They say ZTE purposely distributed about $ 32 million worth of US products to Iran and misinformed USA authorities on its compliance with American laws.

Improved trade games are over with, "Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters Tuesday".

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"Those who flout our economic sanctions and export control laws will not go unpunished - they will suffer the harshest of consequences", he said. From 2010 to 2016, ZTE shipped about $32 million worth of US -developed products to the country, either directly or through a third party, the Justice Department said. "We are committed to a new ZTE, compliant, healthy and trustworthy", ZTE CEO Zhao Xianming said in a statement. The Shenzhen-based company has a USA subsidiary in Richardson, Texas.

"ZTE engaged in an elaborate scheme to acquire US-origin items, send the items to Iran and mask its involvement in those exports", Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord said in a statement.

The company said it was committed to making changes to become "a model for export compliance and management excellence".

"Today's settlement is OFAC's largest-ever against a non-financial entity and sends a powerful message that treasury will aggressively pursue any company that wilfully violates United States economic sanctions laws and obstructs federal investigations of such violations", Mr Mnuchin said.

According to Bloomberg, the Commerce Department declared last March that it would ban US exports to the Chinese company amongst allegations that it resold goods to Iran in breach of USA authorizations.

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