The FBI is investigating whether the Chinese telephone maker ZTE has been selling US computer equipment to Iran.
It is particularly concerned that the company tried to cover it up and obstruct a Department of Commerce probe.
According to the Smoking Gun, the FBI became interested after Reuters ran a yarn about ZTE selling a surveillance system capable of monitoring landline, mobile and Internet communications to Iran’s largest telecom firm.
On the list of ZTE gear for the $120 million contract was hardware and software from Microsoft, HP, Oracle, Cisco, and Dell. US companies are not allowed to sell gear to Iran ever since that little revolution the country had against CIA backed puppet despot the Shah of Iran.
Smoking Gun published a confidential FBI affidavit based on a May interview with Ashley Kyle Yablon, the general counsel of ZTE’s U.S. subsidiary in Texas.
Yablon told two FBI agents that ZTE officials had discussed shredding documents, altering the packing list, and denying it was genuine in an effort to subvert a Department of Commerce investigation into ZTE’s sales of US equipment to Iran.
Yablon told the FBI that a ZTE attorney had told him the company “was concerned about how the Reuters reporter obtained a copy of the packing list … because it could no longer ‘hide anything.'” Yablon refused to be involved in a cover-up.”
Yablon said that a copy of the Iranian contract described how ZTE would evade the US embargo and obtain the US manufactured components specified in the contract for delivery to” the Iranian telecom, Telecommunication.
ZTE owns “sub companies” that it uses to buy US-made telecommunications equipment for sale to countries subject to embargoes, he told the cops.
The news could cause a headache for ZTE in the US, which is trying to prove to Senators that it is not a security risk. ZTE is under investigation by the US House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee over whether its equipment represents a threat to national security.