ZTE lives on: US Commerce Dept. lifts ban

ZTE can once again do business with American companies

The US Commerce Department said Friday that it's letting ZTE, which makes smartphones and telecommunications equipment, resume buying components from American companies.

In an agreement struck last month, Washington agreed to lift the export ban if ZTE paid an additional United States dollars 1 billion fine - beyond the USD 892 million penalty imposed in 2017.

ZTE was recently allowed to resume some sales in the USA earlier this month, after paying a fine, replacing their entire executive board, and hiring a US affiliated monitor for business operations moving forward.

ZTE did not immediately respond to requests for comment. BIS imposed this seven-year ban and other penalties against ZTE in April 2018 in response to its numerous violations of US export controls and sanctions laws.

The punishment came after the company made false statements about disciplining 35 employees involved with violating us sanctions and illegally shipping USA -origin goods to Iran and North Korea, Commerce officials said.

On Thursday, ZTE's Hong Kong shares surged 25 percent after Reuters broke news the United States had signed an escrow agreement that paved the way for ZTE to deposit the $400 million. The latest $1.4 billion deal comes on top of that.

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The company also was required to replace its board of directors, retain outside monitors and put Dollars 400 million in escrow to cover any future violations - a final step it took this week. The settlement also included a $1 billion penalty ZTE paid to the U.S. Treasury in June.

It will now operate with a 10-year suspended ban hanging over its head, which the United States can activate if it finds new violations. Last month, the Senate voted unanimously to reinstate the ban on the company citing national security concerns.

The export ban, imposed earlier this year, effectively crippled ZTE by prohibiting USA companies from selling products or services to it.

But as a favor to Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump ordered Commerce to ease the penalties on ZTE.

They pushed for the inclusion of legislation to reinstate the ZTE ban in the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, a must-pass defence policy bill. But because it is not in the House version of the bill, lawmakers from the Senate and House armed services committees are now negotiating a compromise. Its fate is unclear.

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