USA probing Huawei for possible Iran sanctions violations

ZTE smart phone

Investors are getting anxious regarding Chinese tech stocks following the announcement of a United States ban on ZTE and slowing smartphone sales, with big firms such as Lenovo faring poorly on the markets. Still, another setback in the United States market could cause Huawei to throw in the towel and concentrate on other regions.

Issues and warnings against Huawei have come from presumptions that the company has ties to the Chinese government.

At the moment, ZTE is China's second largest telecom equipment supplier, next to Huawei. Under the ban, the China-based smartphone maker can't get hold of Qualcomm chips and it stands to lose its license to use Android.

Huawei has one of the largest research budgets in technology, spending US$14.2 billion past year on research and development, or 14.9 per cent of its revenue, second only to Amazon in dollar terms and more than what Google's parent Alphabet spent. Huawei does at least make its own Kirin mobile chips.

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Shares of several U.S. suppliers of ZTE slumped immediately after the U.S. Department of Commerce banned sales of components to ZTE for seven years for its alleged violations of the Export Administration Regulations.

Huawei and ZTE have denied these allegations.

The remarks were made concerning a report (paywall) by the Wall Street Journal that the United States Justice Department is investigating whether Huawei violated USA export sanctions related to Iran. The Department of Justice has opened an official investigation of Huawei that could have wide-ranging implications for its business.

Huawei, the world's largest maker of telecommunications network equipment and the No 3 smartphone supplier, said it complies with "all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including the applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of the UN, US and European Union".

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Similar penalties will be unlikely on Huawei even if the Chinese company were indeed being investigated, analysts said.

"A ban on Huawei could hurt them, but it won't kill the company, whereas ZTE is in survival mode [following the USA ban]", he said.

Since at least 2016, U.S. authorities have been probing Huawei's alleged shipping of US-origin products to Iran and other countries in violation of USA export and sanctions laws, two of the sources said. Although the U.S. government could use it as evidence to launch further investigations into Huawei.

The company is taking steps to suspend affected transactions as a result of the ban and is assessing the impact of these developments on Acacia, it said in a statement.

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