US appoints lawyer to keep watch on ZTE for 10 years

US appoints lawyer to keep watch on ZTE for 10 years


The US Commerce Department has appointed a lawyer, Roscoe Howard, to monitor Chinese vendor ZTE and ensure it is not smuggling to Iran and other embargoed countries.

Howard’s appointment comes six weeks after the Department of Commerce (DoC) lifted its ban on ZTE after the company deposited the final tranche of the $1.4 billion penalty imposed on it.

“Today’s appointment is the continuation of the unprecedented measures imposed on ZTE by the Department of Commerce,” said Wilbur Ross, the US Commerce Secretary. “Mr Howard is exceptionally well-versed in corporate compliance, having tried more than 100 cases as a federal prosecutor, as well as helping those in the private sector on compliance and ethics issues.”

Howard has been a partner in Barnes & Thornburg’s litigation department in Washington, where he was a member of the law firm’s white collar and investigations practice group.

His new function at the DoC will be to coordinate, monitor, assess and report on compliance with US export control laws by ZTE, its subsidiaries and affiliates worldwide. He will have “unprecedented access across the company”, said the DoC.

ZTE agreed to 10 years of supervision by the DoC’s Bureau of Industry and Security as well as to a $1.761 billion fine. The DoC suspended its denial order, which banned US hardware and software companies from supplying ZTE, but this can be reactivated at any time in the next 10 years.

ZTE has already appointed a new leadership team and the DoC can require it to replace the entire board of directors and the senior leadership of the company.

These tough conditions came two years after the DoC imposed its first penalties on ZTE for smuggling equipment that included US hardware and software to Iran through shadow companies. Earlier this year the DoC almost closed down the company after it determined that ZTE had not reprimanded staff who were involved in the smuggling.

“My team and I will be vigilant in efforts to ensure that ZTE complies with all US export control laws and regulations,” said Howard.


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