Tag: Iran

ZTE pays $900 million fine


Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE has agreed to plead guilty and pay up in a US sanctions case, drawing a line under a damaging scandal that had threatened its cut off its supply chain.

While the fine was larger than expected, ZTE, also a major smartphone maker, reported robust underlying earnings for 2016 and was upbeat in estimates for the first quarter.

A five-year investigation found ZTE conspired to evade US embargoes by buying US components, incorporating them into ZTE equipment and illegally shipping them to Iran.

It also made 283 shipments of telecommunications equipment to North Korea.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement that ZTE Corporation not only violated export controls that keep sensitive American technology out of the hands of hostile regimes like Iran’s, they lied … about their illegal acts,”

But ZTE relies on US suppliers for 25 percent to 30 percent of its components, many of which are key to its goods. It buys about $2.6 billion worth of components a year from US firms. This includes  Qualcomm, Microsoft and Intel.

ZTE Chief Executive Zhao Xianming said in a statement that his outfit acknowledges the mistakes it made, takes responsibility for them, and remains committed to positive change in the company.

The company agreed to a seven-year suspended denial of export privileges, which could be activated if there are further violations, as well as three years of probation, a compliance and ethics program, and a corporate monitor.

It also agreed to an additional penalty of $300 million that will be suspended during the seven-year term on the condition the company complies with requirements in the agreement.

ZTE has replaced executives allegedly involved, including naming a new president.

The company said it slid to a preliminary net loss of $342 million in 2016, its first loss in four years, due to the settlement.

ZTE cuts a deal with US prosecutors over Iran

ZTE is close to cutting a deal with US prosecutors over its Iran dealings.

Apparently ZTE will plead guilty to US criminal charges and pay hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties over allegations it violated US laws that restrict sale of US technology to Iran. We guess the upside of the deal is that the US will not shut the company down and prevent it using US tech in its products,

The company has not yet signed a deal with the US Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Justice and the US Department of Treasury, but it is pretty likely. ZTE really wants the incident to go away.

The only thing that can really go wrong is if Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump takes an interest. Trump is very much against Iran because his chum Bibi Netanyahu wants a world war against the country.  Trump also does not like Chinese companies coming into the US either so might take the opportunity to scuttle any deal.

ZTE is expected to plead guilty to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, among other charges, the source said, and pay penalties in the hundreds of millions.

The Commerce Department investigation followed reports by Reuters in 2012 that the company had signed contracts to ship millions of dollars worth of hardware and software from some of America’s best-known technology companies to Iran’s largest telecoms carrier.

ZTE fears US action could hit results

Chinese telco outfit ZTE fears that penalties it expects to incur for allegedly breaking US sanctions against Iran will be a kick in the bottom line.

In March, the US government hit ZTE with some of the toughest-ever US export restrictions for the alleged breaches. It has since issued temporary reprieves on the curbs, which are now due to take effect next month.

ZTE said in a filing to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange said that it had been actively cooperating and communicating with relevant U.S. government departments to reach a conclusion of the investigation.

“The outcome of the settlement issues still remains uncertain but will likely have a material impact on the financial conditions and operating results of the company.”

Measures it has taken to placate Washington include a management overhaul and the appointment of a new chief export compliance officer based in the United States.

If no settlement or reprieve extension were reached before the deadline, US suppliers would be banned from doing business with ZTE, which could cut off much of the Chinese company’s supply chain. ZTE relies on US suppliers for about one-third of its components.

Iranian politicians get their dull monitored internet

Iranian MPs sleeping in Majlis ParliamentIran has announced it has completed the first phase of its plan to operate a “national internet” which will be free of all the porn and anti-Islamic thought that the real internet has. Basically it is getting what former UK Prime Minister David Cameron wanted and it is a bit of a snooze.

An inauguration ceremony was held on Sunday by the country’s communications and information technology minister, Mahmoud Vaezi.

The state news agency Irna said the initiative would offer “high quality, high speed” connections at “low costs” although it is not clear how it can be any cheaper than the real thing.

Cynics think that the aim of the new net is to tighten the authorities’ control by closely monitoring people’s use and censoring everything.

Iran already blocks access to overseas-based social media services – including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – many users still access them via proxy sites and virtual private networks (VPNs).

The government says it wants an isolated domestic intranet that can be used to promote Islamic content and raise digital awareness among the public.  It will eventually replace the real internet.

“All domestic activities, services, applications [and] various types of contents… are included in the national internet,” he declared at the launch.

The minister added that the initiative would make it easier to combat cyber-threats. At the ceremony, another official said the Information Technology ministry had recently had to combat several distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks – attempts to overwhelm its computer servers by flooding them with traffic.

US government temporarily lifts ZTE export block

zte-corporationThe US  government has temporarily lifted export curbs it imposed on ZTE for alleged Iran sanctions violations.

ZTE has been “in active, constructive discussions” with the Commerce Department for the past week attempting to resolve the matter.

Apparently the outfit made binding commitments to the US government and Commerce expects this week to be able to provide temporary relief from some licensing requirements.

“The relief would be temporary in nature and would be maintained only if ZTE is abiding by its commitments to the U.S. Government,” the official added.

The details of the commitments are expected to be published this week in the US Federal Register.

ZTE promised to ensure all of its operational activities adhere to international standards of its host countries and it will continue to communicate with relevant parties to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

ZTE is the No. 4 smartphone vendor in the United States, with a seven percent market share, behind Apple, Samsung and LG. It sells handset devices to three of the four largest U.S. mobile carriers.

The export restrictions have drawn protests from the Chinese government and really stuffed up ZTE’s business.

US planned a major cyber attack on Iran

US Army - Wikimedia CommonsThe United States was planning an extensive cyber-attack on Iran if diplomacy over its nuclear programme failed.

According to the New York Times the attack was code-named Nitro Zeus and would have crippled Iran’s air defences, communications systems and key parts of its electrical power grid.

It was put on hold after a nuclear deal was reached last year.

The plan was set up by the Pentagon to give President Barack Obama that he had alternatives to war if Iran moved against the United States or its regional allies. It involved thousands of US military and intelligence personnel and would have required tens of millions of dollars and putting electronic devices in Iran’s computer networks.

US intelligence agencies at the same time developed a separate plan for a covert cyberattack to disable Iran’s Fordo nuclear enrichment site inside a mountain near the city of Qom.

Fiorina is getting bitten by her HP past

Carly Former HP queen Carly Fiorina’s presidential campaign has been hit by a story which is connected to her doings while making expensive printer ink.

Fiorina has been sounding off in favour of the Iranian peace deal which her fellow GOP members are convinced is going to be broken by those evil Muslims who should never be trusted. Until recently the Winsome Carly had said that if she was made president she would have undone the deal if she was elected.

While Fiorina’s change of heart would normally be greeted as sane by many right thinking people, her fellow GOP rivals have dug up an item from her past which she would rather have forgotten.
When Fiorina was CEO of HP the outfit was involved in a scandal to flog printers in Iran through a subsidiary company in Dubai despite the trade embargo. The sales were halted shortly after the business dealings were published by the Globe.

Fiorina claimed no knowledge that the approximately $100 million of sales through the subsidiary were coming from Iran. The San Jose Mercury News found evidence that Fiorina at least knew a little bit about it.

It dug up a statement from the period where she commented that Middle East sales were defying global trends, and, issued a press release saying sales topped $100 million and that a big chunk of it came from Iran.

In 2010 she partially admitted HP’s business in Iran and defended it in an interview with Lady Globes magazine, on the basis that technology could open up Iran to the world. She said that the Iran business was “distributing printer ink,” which she said that was permitted in export law.

However HP had an office in the Dubai free-trade zones notorious for funnelling American goods to Iran, Portfolio reported. The gravy train was derailed in January 2009, HP severed ties with Redington Gulf when the distributor publicly bragged about it.

Anyway it appears that this particular skeleton in her closet will not go away and the news is being circulated on the world wide wibble again.

China looking to outsource to the US

US local governments are providing sweeteners to Chinese companies in the hope they will set up shop.

Yahoo news said the free market was not providing places like Alabama with jobs and the region has a high unemployment rate.

But the region is finding investors from the Communist Henan Province in China.

Henan’s Golden Dragon Precise Copper Tube Group opened a plant in Alabama last month and the trend is being noticed across the US.

Chinese companies invested a record $14 billion in the United States last year, according to the Rhodium Group research firm. Collectively, they employ more than 70,000 Americans.

Chinese workers are getting more expensive and US energy prices are falling. Mayors and economic development officials are lining up to welcome Chinese investors when a decade or two ago they would have called them Commie infiltrators.

It is in the more conservative Southern states, where obsession with the Bible, women’s wombs and blocking health care has meant a higher number of people on welfare has been at the forefront of attracting the Chinese.

To be fair the US has some advantages of cheaper Chinese plants. Besides access to cheap Mexican labour, firms who set up there can save a fortune on transport costs. 

Iranian hackers used Facebook socks

Iranian spooks were involved in a three year hacker campaign using Facebook socks and a fake news website to spy on military and political leaders in the United States, Israel and other countries.

ISight Partners, which uncovered the operation, said the hackers’ targets include a four-star U.S. Navy admiral, US lawmakers and ambassadors, members of the US Israeli lobby, and personnel from Britain, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is not clear what data had been stolen by the hackers, who were looking for passwords to government and corporate networks.

iSight Executive Vice President Tiffany Jones told Reuters that the fact the programme went for so long indicated that they had some success.

The hackers created six “personas” who appeared to work for a fake news site, NewsOnAir.org, which used content from the Associated Press, BBC, Reuters and other media outlets. They then built eight personas who purported to work for defence contractors and other organizations.

The next part of the plan was to set up false accounts on Facebook and other online social networks for these 14 personas, populated their profiles with fictitious personal content, and then tried to befriend the victims.

iSight said it was the most elaborate cyber espionage campaign using “social engineering” that has been uncovered to date from any country.

The hackers would approach high-value targets by first establishing ties with the victims’ mates, classmates, colleagues, relatives and other connections over social networks.

They then sent content that was not malicious, such as links to news articles on NewsOnAir.org, in a bid to establish trust. Later they would send links that infected PCs with malicious software, or direct targets to web portals that ask for network log-in credentials.

The hackers used the 14 personas to make connections with more than 2,000 people, the firm said, adding that it believed the group ultimately targeted several hundred individuals.

Facebook has removed all of the offending profiles found to be associated with the fake NewsOnAir organisation. 

Iranians want Mark Zuckerberg in court

A conservative Iranian court has started a case against instant messaging services WhatsApp and Instagram and summoned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over complaints of privacy violation.

The Iranian court in the southern province of Fars opened the cases against the social networks after citizens complained of breaches of privacy.

You can tell that the Iranian judges are going to be fair and reasonable. They even called Zuckerberg a Zionist because he grew up in New York in a Jewish family. Zuckerberg is actually an atheist.

Nevertheless the Iranians think that either he or his official attorney must appear in court to defend himself and pay for possible losses.

Zuckerberg, whose company owns WhatsApp and Instagram, is likely to tell the court to go forth and multiply. Even if he wanted to show up, Iran is still under international sanctions over its disputed nuclear activities and it is difficult for US citizens to secure travel visas. If he did show up there was a possibility that he might end up stoned, and not in a nice way.

It is fairly likely that the privacy case is just a pretext to get Facebook and WhatsApp banned in Iran. The more extreme conservatives see the World Wide Web as a threat because it enables its population to be informed, rather than told. Hell, they might even learn that there are different takes on the Muslim faith in which the prophet, peace be upon him, talks about treating women as equals and not the property of men.