Giant Chinese firm reported set to plead guilty in Iran sanctions case

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Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Reuters is reporting that giant Chinese telecom company ZTE is expected to plead guilty to U.S. criminal charges that it sold restricted technology to Iran.

ZTE is one of the world’s biggest telecommunications gear makers. / epa

The company has not yet signed a plea deal with U.S. enforcement agencies, Reuters reported on March 2, but ZTE is expected to plead guilty to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and pay a penalty in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

A Commerce Department investigation found that the company in 2012 had signed contracts to ship millions of dollars worth of hardware and software from some of America’s best-known technology companies to Iran’s largest telecom carrier.

A plea agreement would cap a year of uncertainty for the Shenzhen-based company, which was placed on a list of entities that U.S. suppliers could not work with without a license in March 2016.

One of the world’s biggest telecommunications gear makers and the No. 4 smartphone vendor in the United States, ZTE sells handset devices all over the world and relies on suppliers in the United States, including Qualcomm, Microsoft, and Intel, for components.