Chinese smartphone maker ZTE has agreed to pay a $1.2 billion fine in the US for conducting business with nations under sanction. The company had been shipping telecommunications equipment containing US technology to both North Korea and Iran; which contravenes an American trade ban against the countries.
The activity largely went unnoticed, at least until US officials seized a laptop belonging to a ZTE lawyer. The machine contained a number of documents relating to business conducted in the countries. Officials had been keeping an eye on ZTE’s business for five years before making the move.
ZTE’s fine comes after a year long negotiation with the company. It’s not exactly handed down by a judge, but rather a settlement for avoiding going to trial. Despite the $1.2 billion bring the largest criminal fine in US history, critics are saying that it may have not been enough.
The Obama administration, which was in-charge when the issue began, was originally seeking at least $1.4 billion.
For its part, ZTE is taking steps to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. The company has appointed a US lawyer to oversee its compliance issues, and has removed four individuals connected with the sanction-breaking business.
[Source: New York Times]