ZTE report to the HKEX on the impact of the US denial order: “major operating activities of the Company have ceased”


According to a May 10, 2018 filing with the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (HKEX) online here, ZTE announced the April 2018 BIS Denial Order has resulted in “major operating activities of the Company have ceased”.

Earlier in April 2018, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) issued a Denial Order against ZTE for failing to comply with the terms of a plea deal reached in 2017 after ZTE plead guilty for illegally shipping US equipment to Iran and North Korea. One often cited plea deal was for ZTE to reprimand responsible employees and deny bonuses to those employees. However, BIS determined ZTE did pay full bonuses and kept 35 employees who violated the law.

A “Denial Order” bans American companies from exporting parts to ZTE. In the instant case, ZTE is faced with a 7-year Denial Order and can no longer receive Qualcomm Snapdragon chips (84% of all ZTE phones use Snapdragon chips) and Google Android updates.

The HKEX release further states that, “the Company maintains sufficient cash”, and ends with ZTE indicating they would seek a modification or reversal of the Denial Order and update investors as soon as possible.

It will be interesting to see the second quarter ZTE results if the Denial Order is not reversed – ZTE’s shipped 75% of their smartphone shipments to the US in the first quarter of 2018.

ZTE banned from purchasing US technology for 7 years.

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ZTE Corporate Campus in Shenzhen, China; Photo Credit: Brücke-Osteuropa from Wikipedia

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) imposed a denial of export privileges against ZTE, composed of Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment Corporation, of Shenzhen, China (“ZTE Corporation”) and ZTE Kangxun Telecommunications Ltd. of Hi-New Shenzhen, China (“ZTE Kangxun”).

Background

In March of 2017, ZTE agreed to pay civil and criminal penalty and forfeitures totaling $1.19 billion for shipping telecommunications equipment to Iran and North Korea, making false statements, and obstructing justice by preventing disclosure to and misleading the U.S. Government. In 2017, ZTE also agreed to a seven-year denial of export privileges if ZTE committed additional violations.

Commerce found ZTE made several violations such as making false statements to BIS in 2016 and making false statements about disciplinary actions against employees involved in the shipment of equipment to Iran and North Korea.

Result

By activating the seven-year denial of export privileges, ZTE is prohibited from participating in any way in any transaction subject to the EAR. The prohibition also makes it unlawful for businesses and individuals to participate in an export transaction subject to the EAR with a denied person (ZTE).

If you have any questions about how the recent ZTE order may effect your business, or have any other BIS, EAR or export compliance issues – contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.