US media is reporting that ZTE is the subject of a fresh bribery investigation, but the Chinese vendor says that’s the first it has heard of it.

NBC was the first media to report that ZTE is ‘the subject of a new and separate bribery investigation by the Justice Department.’ Before long the WSJ did that thing where they suddenly dig up an anonymous source of their own to independently leak a story that’s already in the public domain, with the headline U.S. Probes Chinese Telecom Giant ZTE for Possible Bribery.

If that report is accurate it must have been a very gentle probe, more of a prod or an askance look, because ZTE insists it has no knowledge of any such thing. Under the headline of ‘clarification of news articles’, ZTE acknowledged reports such as the ones above, but stressed the US has not contacted it.

“The company would like to clarify that it has not received notices from the relevant government departments of the United States in this regard,” said the announcement. “The company will proactively communicate with the relevant government departments of the United States, and will make announcements as and when required.

“The company is fully committed to meeting its legal and compliance obligations. The top priority of the company’s leadership team is making the company a trusted and reliable business partner in the global marketplace.

“Currently, the production and operating activities of the company are carried on as normal. The company wishes to remind investors that only information published by the company on its website and the websites of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange should be relied upon. Investors are urged to base their investments on rational considerations and beware of risks.”

That last paragraph is a bit strange as companies aren’t known for being in any great hurry to publicise any bad news unless they have to. It looks like ZTE doesn’t really get what the point of journalists is. Having said that, it does seem strange for US authorities to leak this story to the press before formalising proceedings, which means this could just be a shot across the bows by the Trump administration, to put additional pressure on China in their trade war.


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