ZTE may have thought that its troubles with the U.S. government are all but over but they have to fight another battle. The Justice Department is allegedly investigating new suspicions about the Chinese-owned company. The new accusations are that they may have bribed foreign officials in order to gain business advantages in their worldwide operations. They previously pled guilty to violating U.S. sanctions three years ago and have just ended their probation period which is part of the punishment over these charges.
According to a report by NBC News, the Justice Department is looking into allegations that ZTE has been bribing foreign officials so that they will receive favorable business advantages. There were no details indicated as to who they were bribing and to what end. The two sources just confirmed that they are indeed under investigation although the U.S. Attorney’s Office has declined to comment.
For its part, ZTE has said they are committed to meet their legal and compliance obligations. They are working to make their company “a trusted and reliable business partner in the global marketplace”. But they will not be commenting beyond that as it is not appropriate. They also mentioned that they are proud of the progress they have made and some may say that is an indirect indication that there may have been some funny business before.
Three years ago, ZTE pleaded guilty to violating sanctions against Iran and North Korea. They received a civil and criminal penalty as well as a forfeiture of $1.19 billion. They have recently ended their corporate probation period which they received after the March 2017 plea agreement.
If they are indeed under investigation once again, this will be another setback for the Chinese company. They’re part of the U.S.’s campaign against Chinese-run companies suspected of close ties with the Chines government, which also includes Huawei and even social media phenomenon TikTok.