Chinese telecommunications equipment maker ZTE will appear in U.S. federal court on March 14, facing a new charge of violating U.S. probation rules. ZTE pled guilty in 2017 for illegally shipping U.S. technology to Iran.
Reuters reported that according to a court document filed in a Texas federal court on March 4, the new charges relate to a suspected conspiracy to commit visa fraud.
In March last year, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted a former research director of ZTE and a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology of conspiracy to bring Chinese citizens to the U.S. on a J-1 visa. The visa involves working and studying at institutions such as Georgia Tech.
The indictment stated that after these Chinese citizens arrived in the United States, they went to work for ZTE in New Jersey instead. Gee-Kung Chang, a professor at Georgia Tech, has pleaded not guilty. The status of ZTE’s former research director, Jianjun Yu, is unknown. ZTE was not charged in this case.
ZTE had to face huge fines and other penalties for violating U.S. regulations in the past.
ZTE settled with the U.S. government in 2017. ZTE agreed to pay a fine of $892 million and pled guilty in Texas to criminal charges of selling U.S. technology to Iran in violation of U.S. legal restrictions.
After a five-year investigation, U.S. prosecutors found that ZTE conspired to evade the U.S. embargo by purchasing U.S. parts, incorporating them into ZTE equipment, and shipping them illegally to Iran.
In addition, ZTE agreed to pay another $300 million in deposits, which may be waived if ZTE fulfills the requirements of its agreement with the Bureau of Industry and Security of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Finally, ZTE agreed to three years of probation, a compliance program, and corporate monitors.
But in 2018, ZTE lied about punishing executives involved in wrongdoing, and the U.S. Department of Commerce banned ZTE from doing business with U.S. suppliers.
To lift the ban, ZTE subsequently had to pay a fine of $1 billion and another $400 million as a deposit in case of future violation and agreed to change its leadership and cooperate with compliance representatives designated by the U.S Department of Commerce.
At the same time, the Texas judge also extended ZTE’s probation and supervision period in the criminal case for another two years to March 22, 2022.