The US government is under pressure to probe a currently unknown company for allegedly violating the country’s trade sanctions with Iran in the same way Chinese vendor ZTE admitted to doing so in March.
ZTE agreed to pay fines of up to $1.2 billion to settle a case launched by the US government in early 2016 covering breaches of laws restricting the sale of technology products to Iran.
Following the settlement, the spotlight turned to a ZTE document released in 2011 stating an unidentified company also evaded the same US export controls.
The company, referred to as “F7” in the document, remains unknown, but US Republican lawmakers are now pushing for an investigation, Bloomberg reported.
Several members of the US Congress reportedly wrote to Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, urging the government to unmask the company.
Indeed, after ZTE pleaded guilty to breaching the US rules, Ross insisted any companies found in breach of export control laws would “suffer the harshest of consequences”.
The letter calling for the investigation also highlighted the fact several news reports drew comparisons between the F7 description and Huawei, ZTE’s rival and the largest Chinese network equipment company, after the document was released.
In 2016, The New York Times (NYT) reported ZTE’s document stated F7 tried to buy an American company in 2010 called 3Leaf – the same year Huawei agreed to buy assets from 3Leaf. The vendor subsequently dropped the bid in 2011 due to government opposition.
The NYT also noted F7 had a joint venture with digital security firm Symantec. Huawei, again, had a similar venture with the company in place until 2012.
Huawei said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg it had: “no comment on this issue. Huawei complies with all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including the applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of UN, US and EU”.
The Chinese vendor is of course is no stranger to scrutiny by the US government. The company was subpoenaed to turn over information relating to the export of US technology to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria in 2016.
Huawei was also the focus of long running national security concerns in the US in the past.