Last month Department of Commerce, United States enquired ZTE in relation to selling American goods to Iran, a nation with whom trade is prohibited by the government of United States of America. Well if, the document posted by The Smoking Gun, is anything to go by, seems like the issue has been escalated, with FBI taking the charge.
The Chinese company ZTE is now under the FBI investigation, on allegation that it had supplied U.S. manufactured hardware and software to Iran, which is in direct violation of the federal laws and trade embargo.
In March, this year, Reuters had reported that the Chinese firm has sold Iran’s largest telecom firm a powerful surveillance system. So far, the investigation, which began early this year, has also revealed that the company had planned to obstruct the Department of Commerce enquiry. Once the news was out, ZTE lawyers went into panic mode and allegedly began hatching a plot to shred documents and alter records to cover up the illegal transactions.
According to the reports, ZTE had signed a deal with Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI) in 2010, to obtain sophisticated technology, some of which would prove useful in cracking down on critics and dissidents. The documents of the deal also exploited a loophole in the system, by which, Iran could obtain U.S. technology despite the trade embargo to Iran, through a Chinese company. It is believed that ZTE had set up a company named 8 Star Beijing solely for the purpose of buying American goods subject to the U.S. embargo. Also another firm named ZTEC Parsian, was set up to integrate the equipment for delivery to and installation in Iran.
ZTE’s 907-page packing list of equipment shipped to Iran, include products from top U.S. firms, including Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, Cisco Systems, Dell, Juniper Networks and Symantec. However none of the mentioned companies are aware of ZTE’s deal with Iran.
Ashley Kyle Yablon, a 39-year-old attorney who was hired as general counsel by ZTE’s U.S. subsidiary, is said to have played the role of a whistle-blower in this case. Yablon had joined ZTE, last year in October.