Apr 16, 12:24 PM EDT

US bars China's telecom giant ZTE from buying US components

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Commerce Department is blocking Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE Corp. from importing American components for seven years, accusing the company of misleading U.S. regulators after it settled charges of violating sanctions against North Korea and Iran.

ZTE agreed in March 2017 to plead guilty and pay $1.19 billion for illegally shipping telecommunications equipment to North Korea and Iran. ZTE promised to discipline employees involved in the scheme.

But Commerce says that ZTE paid bonuses to several of those involved, then lied about it.

"Instead of reprimanding ZTE staff and senior management, ZTE rewarded them," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says. "This egregious behavior cannot be ignored."

Commerce officials said the sanctions were unrelated to ongoing disputes over China's aggressive attempts to obtain U.S. technology and overproduction of steel and aluminum.

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