"While we lifted the ban on ZTE, the Department will remain vigilant as we closely monitor ZTE's actions to ensure compliance with all US laws and regulations," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement yesterday.
But the move to reverse the harsh penalties, made at President Donald Trump's insistence, has left US lawmakers irate. Congress has taken steps to keep the ban in place and accused Trump of rewarding a company which had repeatedly flouted American law, lied to authorities and engaged in espionage.
The Commerce Department in April banned US companies from supplying ZTE with crucial components, forcing it to halt operations, after officials found further violations even after reaching a settlement in March of last year over the initial complaints.
The company had paid bonuses rather than reprimanding employees involved in illegal activity and created an "elaborate scheme" to deceive US officials and obstruct justice, US officials said.
The company also was required to replace its board of directors, retain outside monitors and put USD 400 million in escrow to cover any future violations -- a final step it took this week.
In a statement this week, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Select Committee on Intelligence, lambasted the reversal, saying the US military and spy agencies had branded ZTE an "ongoing threat" to US national security.
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