(CBSDFW.COM) - Chinese electronics giant ZTE Corporation this week pled guilty to violating U.S.-Iran sanctions.
The plea marks the end of a five-year joint investigation by the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, among others. As a result, the company agreed to an $892,360,064 fine, coupled with an additional $300,000,000 it will be forced to pay if it violates terms of the agreement.
The extensive list of complaints against the number four smartphone manufacturer in the U.S. is as long as the enormous fine infers. According to the DOJ, the company knowingly violated sanctions by shipping product from the U.S. to Iran and lied about its actions when pressed by federal investigators. It later lied again, saying it had stopped, according to the DOJ.
"In fact," writes the DOJ in a statement announcing the plea, "while the investigation was ongoing, ZTE resumed its business with Iran and shipped millions of dollars' worth of U.S. items there." According to the department, the shipments to customers in Iran lasted for nearly six years.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is looking to make an example out of the company, stating in the same release: "ZTE Corporation not only violated export controls that keep sensitive American technology out of the hands of hostile regimes like Iran's – they lied to federal investigators and even deceived their own counsel and internal investigators about their illegal acts. This plea agreement holds them accountable, and makes clear that our government will use every tool we have to punish companies who would violate our laws, obstruct justice and jeopardize our national security."
Click here to read the DOJ release in its entirety.
ZTE responded to the news with a release of its own, effectively apologizing and suggesting that the situation was an eye-opening for the company, as it replaced a trio of top execs (including its CEO) back in April,rebuilt its legal team and instituted a compliance committee.
Click here to read ZTE's release.
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