Bipartisan Senate duo asks White House to investigate ZTE's work in Venezuela

Bipartisan Senate duo asks White House to investigate ZTE's work in Venezuela
© Getty Images

A bipartisan pair of senators is asking the White House to look into whether the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE violated U.S. sanctions by helping Venezuela track and monitor its citizens.

In a letter shared with The Hill, Sens. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Former Maryland rep announces bid for old House seat MORE (D-Md.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioPut partisan politics aside — The Child Tax Credit must be renewed immediately These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Lawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine MORE (R-Fla.) write that they are concerned that, by building a database to help Venezuela track its citizens, ZTE "may have violated U.S. export controls and sanctions laws" as well as an agreement between the Commerce Department and ZTE reached earlier this year.

ADVERTISEMENT

The letter was set to be sent to the White House on Wednesday, according to a Reuters report, and follows a Reuters investigation revealing ZTE was helping Venezuela build a database to track its citizens through identification cards.

The letter is addressed to Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoSunday shows preview: US reaffirms support for Ukraine amid threat of Russian invasion Pence to deliver keynote at fundraising banquet for South Carolina-based pregnancy center Russia suggests military deployments to Cuba, Venezuela an option MORE, Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossMomentum builds to prohibit lawmakers from trading stocks Census memo notes 'unprecedented' Trump administration meddling: report Holding defiant Trump witnesses to account, Jan. 6 committee carries out Congress's constitutional role MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinConservatives are outraged that Sarah Bloom Raskin actually believes in capitalism Suspect in Khashoggi murder arrested The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to tackle omicron risks with new travel rules MORE.

The senators in the letter request that the White House find out whether ZTE worked with any Venezuelan officials have been sanctioned by the U.S. and whether ZTE helped Venezuela undermine democratic processes or violate human rights.

The Trump administration earlier this year placed sanctions on several people close to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, including his wife and vice president.

Van Hollen and Rubio are also asking the White House to assess whether ZTE violated U.S. export controls by installing data storage units in Venezuela built by Dell technologies and to assess whether ZTE's work in Venezuela breached its agreement with the Commerce Department.

That deal lifted a ban on American companies selling to ZTE, but the deal also allowed the Commerce Department to reimpose the ban if ZTE violated terms of the agreement.

Van Hollen and Rubio requested in their letter that the White House respond within 30 days.