The Department of Justice is investigating Chinese telecom giant ZTE for bribery three years after the company pleaded guilty to violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and North Korea.
The investigations focus on potential bribes ZTE paid foreign officials to secure business deals around the world, according to NBC News. The Department of Justice recently ended ZTE’s two-year corporate probation period that the company agreed to as part of its plea deal in March 2017.
“ZTE is fully committed to meeting its legal and compliance obligations,” ZTE said in a statement. “The top priority of the company’s leadership team is making ZTE a trusted and reliable business partner in the global marketplace, and the company is proud of the enormous progress it has made. Beyond this, it would not be appropriate for ZTE to comment.”
News of the investigation broke Friday as the United States continues to hinder Chinese telecoms companies from making international business deals. The Trump administration is actively warning off other countries from working with the Chinese telecoms company Huawei.
U.S. officials and security experts believe that the Chinese government may be using Huawei to expand its surveillance capabilities in other countries. The extent to which Huawei services other countries may significantly affect U.S. foreign relations, especially with countries that the U.S. routinely shares intelligence with.
Robert Blair, the White House special representative for international telecommunications policy, warned Europe and others about the threat posed by Chinese tech at a security conference in Germany last month.
“We are concerned that if [the Chinese] get access to a network and have the ability to censor data or have the ability to determine where dissidents are, that they will use every tool that they have at their disposal,” Blair told reporters at the conference in Munich.
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