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BIS accuses a Chinese cable company of violating export regulations

Far East Cable, the largest cable and wire manufacturer in China, was accused of violating export control laws by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the U.S. Commerce Department for allegedly working with the telecommunications company ZTE to get around American sanctions against Iran.

According to a press release from the BIS on Monday, Far East Cable "served as a cutout" between ZTE and Iranian telecoms on 18 occasions between September 2014 and January 2016, helping to facilitate violations of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). ZTE was being investigated at the time for EAR violations of its own, which led to the Commerce Department fining the company a record-breaking $1.19 billion in fines in March 2017.

In order to hide and obfuscate ZTE's Iranian business from U.S. investigators, the BIS claimed Far East Cable "signed contracts with ZTE and Iranian telecommunications companies to deliver U.S.-origin equipment to Iran."

Far East has 30 days from the date of the July 29 charging letter to respond to the Commerce Department's allegations. The regulator may impose fines, revoke export privileges, or prohibit practice before the BIS as possible sanctions.

The BIS describes in the letter how Far East Cable signed agreements with Iranian telecom firms for the provision of equipment in three Iranian provinces. Despite the Iranian businesses being "longtime customers" of ZTE and having "signed contracts with ZTE under which ZTE built, operated, maintained, and/or supplied [their] telecommunications networks," the deals made no mention of ZTE, according to the BIS.

According to the letter, these transactions came after Far East Cable and ZTE reached an agreement in December 2013 to buy each other's telecommunications network equipment. After the BIS had already started looking into ZTE's activities in Iran, that agreement was made.

No one at Far East Cable was available for comment.



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