US Commerce Department Removes ZTE From Trade Blacklist; CEO Still Under Investigation

Yicai

2017-03-29

(Yicai Global) March 29 -- America has removed ZTE Corp. [SHE:000063] from its trade blacklist after over a year of investigation and mediation into its deals in Iran, but will continue its probe into the firm’s former chief executive.

The US Department of Commerce announced its plan to remove ZTE from the blacklist yesterday, saying it can now trade as normal in the US. However, the department will continue its investigation into Shi Lirong, CEO, as it believes he intentionally escaped US trade embargo regulations.

ZTE signed computer software and hardware contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars with Iran’s largest telecom operator, the commerce department found. Some of the products sold in the contracts were made by well-known US tech companies, and were banned from being exported to Iran, media reported in 2012. The American manufacturers said they did not know about the contracts.

The Department of Commerce announced it was placing ZTE on the trade blacklist last March, which prevented the firm from regular trade with the US. The company said it would aid the US authorities in finding the source of the problem and working out a solution. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it firmly rejects US sanctions on Chinese companies.

ZTE reached a settlement with the US to pay USD890 million in criminal and civil penalties. The USD300 million fine imposed by the commerce department’s Bureau of Industry and Security has been suspended, and its reinstatement will depend on whether ZTE comply with their settlement agreement and allow independent compliance checks over the next seven years, the company said on March 8.

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