US investigating Chinese telecom giant ZTE for alleged bribery.

pexels-photo-745243

Photo by Wolfram K on Pexels.com

While the news is dominated by the corona virus coverage, the US is investigating whether ZTE paid bribes to foreign officials to gain advantage in ZTE’s operations. ZTE is one of the largest Chinese telecommunications companies and are believed to be closely related to the Chinese Communist Party.

The bribes include allegations of bribery by ZTE in over 12 countries, including but not limited to Algeria, Liberia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

These new legal issues come right after ZTE plead guilty 3 years ago for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea. In 2017, ZTE plead guilty to violating U.S. sanctions, and resulted in ZTE paying a civil and criminal penalty and forfeiture of assets – a settlement costing ZTE over $1.19 billion dollars. ZTE’s probation ended

ZTE’s US headquarters are based in Richardson Texas with the company’s headquarters located in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China.

Department of Justice charges Indonesian citizen and companies with exporting goods to Iranian airline Mahan Air.

brown pagoda near body of water

Photo by Aron Visuals on Pexels.com

According to a Department of Justice (DOJ) filing found here, the DOJ charged an individual Indonesian citizen and several Indonesian based companies for violating US export control of goods to Iran. Specifically, the charged individual and companies worked together to export goods originating from the US to Iranian airline Mahan Air. The complaint says the Indonesian national and companies shipped goods owned by Mahan Air through the following Indonesian companies: PT MS Aero Support (“PTMS”), PT Kandiyasa Energi Utama (“PTKEU”) and PT Antasena Kreasi (“PTAK”) .

The charge against the defendants include (i) unlawful and attempted export to an embargoed country, (ii) conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and (iii) false statements.

If you do not want to be the subject of DOJ investigation, call experienced trade controls attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com. Initial consultations are free, contact us to figure out how to protect you and your company from the many hazards of exporting US goods overseas.

Chinese-owned very large crude carrier changed name to evade oil sanctions.

landscape sunset twilight park

Photo by Zukiman Mohamad on Pexels.com

According to Reuters, a Malaysia-bound boat named the Pacific Bravo carrying a potential $118 million USD of crude oil disappeared and reappeared under a new name, the Latin Venture. The newly named Latin Venture has the same unique identification number as the Pacific Bravo: IMO9206035. As the unique identification number stays with the ship, the new name suggests someone was trying to avoid Iran oil sanctions. This prompoted the US government to warn parts in Asia to not allow the ship to dock. The shipment of Iranian crude oil violates economic sanctions in place against doing business with Iran.

The Trump administration reimposed sanctions on Iran in November and withdrawing from the 2015 Iran deal aimed at limited Iran’s nuclear program. And in an effort to reduce Iran’s oil sales, this past May the US ended sanction waivers to some importers of Iranian oil.

If you want to be sure your exports are in compliance with the current Iranian sanctions, contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dh@gjatradelaw.com, attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

3 European countries create “Instex” to avoid US sanctions against Iran.

pexels-photo-1813252

Photo by Carolline De Souza on Pexels.com

As you are aware, after taking office, President Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by then-President Obama. Negating the deal also resulted in the imposition of banking sanctions Iran.

In order to continue doing business with Iran, European leaders from Britain, France and Germany created a new company called the “Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges” or Instex for short.

The Instex corporation was registered in France as a “special-purpose vehicle” on Thursday and will be run by a German banker.

As expected, the State Department issued a statement saying “entities that continue to engage in sanctionable activity involving Iran risk severe consequences that could include losing access to the U.S. financial system and the ability to do business with the United States or U.S. companies”.

It will be interesting to see whether any companies take this risk and will post any Instex as it becomes available.

If you have any questions about the Iran sanctions or want to ensure your company is in compliance with export controls, contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Huawei CFO seeks bail due to health concerns.

At a court hearing in Canada  yesterday, jailed Huawei CFO, Wanzhou Meng, argued she should be released due to fears for her health while incarcerated. Since her arrest, the 46 year old has been treated for hypertension.

As bail is usually not granted if someone is a flight risk, Wangzhou claimed through an affidavit that she is not a flight risk as she has “longstanding ties” to Canada and even owns properties in Vancouver.

However, it is unlikely Canada will release her on bail as an extradition hearing will determine whether she be extradited to the United States to face trial for allegedly misleading banks about Huawei’s control of a company in Iran. In addition to Wanzhou facing charges; the US could also put the banks at risk for violating US sanctions and incurring penalties.

Summary of information we have about the Huawei CFO Arrest.

black huawei android smartphone

Photo by Alex Fu on Pexels.com

Below is a summary in bullet point of news we know about the arrest of Huawei’s CFO as reported by multiple sources:

  1. Who is Meng Wangzhou?
    1. 46 year-old global CFO of Huawei
    2. Daughter of Huawei founder.
    3. She faces extradition to the US.
    4. She also goes by Cathy or Sabrina
  2. When was the arrest?
    1. December 1, 2018
    2. The arrest warrant was issued on August 22nd.
  3. Where did they arrest the CFO?
    1. The arrest took place in Vancouver’s airport as she traveled from Hong Kong to Mexico.
  4. Why did they arrest the CFO?
    1. The arrest stems from 2013 statements made by Meng Wanzhou. In 2013, she told financial institutions Huawei had no connection to a Hong-Kong based company called Skycom.
  5. Why is Skycom Tech Co. Ltd. under investigation by the US?
    1. Skycom is suspected of selling Hewlett-Packard computer equipment to Iran’s largest mobile-phone operator.
    2. There is an embargo in place and selling HP equipment to Iran is in violation of US sanctions.
    3. Meng’s lawyer claims Huawei already divested itself from Skycom and left the Skycom board.
    4. US authorities also believe Huawei operated Skycom as an “unofficial subsidiary” to conduct business in Iran.
    5. Meng previously served on the board of Skycom from February 2008- April 2009 according to Skycom filings with Hong Kong’s Companies Registry.
    6. Several past Skycom directors may also have connections to Huawei.
  6. Tell me more about the court case?
    1. Eastern District of New York.
    2. US authorities will like allege Meng played a role in fraud by telling banks there was no link between Huawei and Skycom.
  7.  Why arrest the CFO in Canada?
    1. The US does not have an extradition treaty with China
    2. Canadian authorities consider her a flight risk because of her wealth.
  8.  What is China’s response?
    1. The Chinese government has demanded Meng’s immediate release.
    2. China has asked Ottawa and Washington to clarify their reasons for the detention.
    3. The arrest has sparked anger on Chinese social media with users calling for boycott of US goods.
  9.  Who is Huawei?
    1. Huawei was founded in 1987 by Zhengfei Ren, a prominent business figure in China.
    2. Huawei is the world’s second-largest maker of smartphones (behind Samsung) and one of the world’s largest makers of telecommunication equipment.
    3. Huawei and ZTE are considered by some US officials as a threat to national security due to the potential for spying on US companies or agencies that use their equipment.

Check back for more news as they develop.

Sudan joins the UN’s Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.

Flag_of_Sudan.svg

Credit: Wikipedia 

In October 2017, the US revoked certain sanctions against Sudan and the Sudanese government. These sanctions include those put in place by then-President Clinton (Executive Order 13067) and then-President Bush (Eexecutive Order 13412). However, OFAC sanctions related to the conflict in Darfur: EO 13400, EO 13067.

Following the removal of sanctions, the Sudanese government has made efforts to increase foreign investment – with the Sudanese state minister touring Germany, Bahrain and other countries in December 2017.

In a move to further increase foreign investment to Sudan, on Tuesday, April 3rd, Sudan joined the network of countries that agree to enforce and recognize other nation’s arbitral awards. By joining this network, the Sudanese government hopes to increase confidence of foreign investors – especially in Sudan’s oil and gas sector.

Nations that sign the UN Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awardshe Signatories to the New York Convention agree to recognize arbitration agreements and enforce awards issued in other countries party to the rules. This agreement is viewed as the basis for international arbitration and allows a way for companies to settle commercial disputes.

The removal of 20 years of trade and financial sanctions will allow U.S. citizens and companies to now do business in Sudan, including deals with their government. However, U.S. citizens and companies are still probibited from conducting business with parties on the OFAC list.

If you or your company is planning to invest in Sudan, contact our offices, we can verify compliance with the most recent OFAC list and assist your company in taking all efforts to maintain export compliance – David Hsu, 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.