The fine comes on top of a roughly $1 billion penalty ZTE has already paid for having sold equipment to North Korea and Iran in violation of USA sanctions.
The Commerce Department plans to amend its settlement agreement from past year and count the $361 million ZTE paid as a part of that, allowing the U.S.to claim a total penalty of as much as $1.7 billion, sources said.
The ZTE settlement comes days after Beijing reportedly offered to ramp up purchases of American goods to help cut the yawning trade imbalance with the United States - moving part-way towards meeting a major demand of US President Donald Trump.
ZTE had been facing a seven-year ban on doing business in the U.S. That's because it violated an agreement with the U.S. after it got caught evading sanctions against North Korea and Iran.
The decision amounted to a death sentence to ZTE, which relies on USA parts and which announced that it was halting operations. In addition, the company is agreeing to retain a team of special compliance coordinators selected by US regulators.
The denial order put ZTE's future into jeopardy because it relies on US components for so many of its products.
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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told Reuters he thought Congress should immediately take action to try to block the deal. Citing "sources familiar with the matter", Reuters disclosed Tuesday that ZTE could soon be allowed to buy the USA products.
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In return, ZTE can once again buy parts for its phones from American companies. He called the deal brokered a "strict settlement" calling it the "largest settlement fine that has ever been brought by the Commerce Department against any violator of export controls".
ZTE at the time said it would discipline the executives involved, but this year the Commerce Department learned that four of those people stayed at ZTE, and received bonuses. Last year, the company was already fined $1.2 billion for violating U.S. sanctions.
The White House didn't respond to a request for comment.
"We have made them agree that they will adopt our code of compliance and pay for people we insert into the company to monitor that compliance", Ross said Thursday.
Many in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats have strongly opposed how the president was handling the ZTE matter - and blasted the latest twist. He later tweeted the ZTE talks were "part of a larger trade deal" being negotiated with China.