US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has appointed a former federal prosecutor, Roscoe Howard, to monitor Chinese telecoms equipment maker ZTE for compliance on US export controls, Reuters reports.
Howard will lead a compliance team designed to help ensure that ZTE does not illegally sell products with American parts to Iran and other sanctioned countries.
The appointee, who is a partner in a law firm in Washington, had in the past served as associate independent counsel during the Clinton and George H. W. Bush administrations.
Howard was not the first choice of Commerce Department officials.
According to Reuters, Peter Lichtenbaum, a former assistant secretary for export administration at the Commerce Department, received a letter on Aug. 15 offering him the post.
However, the offer was rescinded as he was found to have signed a “Never Trump” letter before the 2016 presidential election, sources were quoted as saying.
On Aug. 17, two days after making the offer, the Commerce Department withdrew it, according to the Reuters sources.
“This is the final decision. Period,” a department spokesman said about Ross’s decision to rescind the offer to Lichtenbaum and choose Howard.
A new monitor for ZTE is required as part of a June settlement that ended a ban on US companies selling components to the Chinese firm.
ZTE pleaded guilty last year to violating US sanctions by illegally shipping goods made with American parts and technology to Iran.
The ban on ZTE was imposed in April after officials said the company made false statements about disciplining 35 employees tied to the wrongdoing.
As part of the 2017 guilty plea, ZTE paid nearly US$900 million. To lift this year’s ban, it paid an additional US$1 billion penalty, placed US$400 million in escrow in case of future violations and installed a new board and senior management.
Under the latest agreement, the Commerce Department is selecting a monitor to oversee compliance for ZTE and its worldwide affiliates for 10 years.
Howard will have a staff of at least six people funded by ZTE, including at least one expert in export controls, according to the report.
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