back to article Will Chinese giants defy US sanctions on Russia? We asked a ZTE whistleblower

If ZTE and other Chinese giants defy bans on selling American technology to Russia, it will be because they can't help but chase the revenue, says Ashley Yablon, the whistleblower whose evidence led to ZTE being fined for willfully ignoring the US ban on exports to Iran. Yablon is a lawyer who, after working in senior roles at …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "quickly climbed into multiple six figure sums"

    How to deter most whistleblowers...

    1. Kane

      Re: "quickly climbed into multiple six figure sums"

      "quickly climbed into multiple six figure sums"

      Hence the need to write a book about the experience.

      Won't somebody think of the children? lawyers?

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: "quickly climbed into multiple six figure sums"

        Don't US whistle blowers get a pretty hefty reward based on the fines issued?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    " It details several instances when ZTE execs and lawyers stated that they saw laws as suggestions, not ironclad rules."

    That's hardly something specific to Chinese companies. I've been working in Europe for US companies, and in my experience, they don't even see local laws as suggestions - they see them as irrelevant to them, if they see them at all.

    There's the potential for a good article here, but as it's written, it could be summed up as "Chinese companies work in the same way as US companies".

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well in the UK

    P&O chairman admits to knowingly breaking employment law. So the only question is what other laws is he prepared to break ?

    As GBS said "now we're just arguing over the price ...."

  4. Zolko Silver badge
    IT Angle

    ElReg doing politics ?

    Yablon is a lawyer who ... ZTE asked him to defend the indefensible, and Yablon chose instead to blow the whistle.

    this Yablon bloke doesn't seem very trustworthy. As a lawyer doesn't he have an obligation to secrecy towards his client ?

    And "indefensible " applies to a Chinese company making business with Iran ? Looks quite easy to defend in my eyes.

    Yablon said he fears ZTE and others may again choose to ignore US law

    And what's wrong with ignoring US laws ? I do that too. Well, yes, Julain Assange comes to mind ... is it now the UK's official position that US laws apply everywhere ? What is the point of talking about a lawyer who has broken his oath to his client ?

    1. ssharwood

      Re: ElReg doing politics ?

      ZTE wasn’t his client. It was his employer. Ashley felt his higher duty was to the law, not his employer. He knew the personal risks. He blew the whistle anyway.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ElReg doing politics ?

        Client or employer, I don't think professional confidentiality allows lawyers to hide illegal activities.

        There is a question about why those US laws have global jurisdiction, but it's not the same as whether he did right or wrong to blow the whistle.

        Also, it could be simply said his higher duty was to himself: he'd have been personally liable when the issue came to light, if it appeared he was aware of it and said nothing.

        1. ssharwood

          Re: ElReg doing politics ?

          Yup: the book mentions possible personal criminal liability

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: ElReg doing politics ?

      I'm glad there's still people like "this Yablon bloke" around that have actual morals. Orders are orders is NOT a defense or excuse and Client/lawyer confidentiality is not a privilege without (well established in precedents) limits. And it doesn't even apply in this case.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @imanidiot - Re: ElReg doing politics ?

        Yeah but when someone does the same to a certain US agency and tries to write a book about it, he might be prevented from touching the profit. Not to mention the harassment which in this particular case is an understatement.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ElReg doing politics ?

      He was General counsel at Chinese telco kit-maker ZTE's US operations

      I think you'll find US laws definitely apply to businesses operating within the US!

    4. RPF

      Re: ElReg doing politics ?

      He was General counsel at Chinese telco kit-maker ZTE's US operations, i.e. in the US

  5. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    … it will be because they can't help but chase the revenue…

    Apart from selling military kit, which is incompatible with the stuff Russia makes, there isn't much revenue for Chinese companies in Russia. It's a resource rich kleptocracy, where the profits that come from exporting resources get spent on trinkets for the rich.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: … it will be because they can't help but chase the revenue…

      That's just capitalism. It didn't stop the Bidens doing business with China, or Ukrainian biolabs.

      But such is politics. Nations protect their own interests, and sometimes that creates conflicts. I think it also demonstrates that bad policy decisions can take time to become apparent. Sanctions might protect your own industry, if that isn't reliant on the countries you've just sanctioned.

      So China, Russia, Iran end up in the sanctions corner. So they increase trade. Include India, and it's BRICS. 30% of the land, and close to 50% of the world's population in a trading bloc that becomes increasingly less reliant on the West. And the frequent use of sanctions means non-aligned nations are going to look at de-risking their economies.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: … it will be because they can't help but chase the revenue…

        Your argument extends a false premise into nonsense. Trade with America is essential for many economies for many reasons but these three are key: the size of the market, source of capital, rule of law.

        That many sanctions are poorly thought out, ineffectual and partial is well-known, Iran springs to mind. But sanctions-busting is entirely market-driven and the Russian market is not that interesting for many, or do you think Putin the Paranoid is keen on letting the Chinese run its networking and telecoms?

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: … it will be because they can't help but chase the revenue…

          Yes well, I did mention BRICS, and it's potential expansion. Such is geopolitics. The EU is a larger market than the US, hence why there's good natured competition to weaken the EU. Or read some SF, where EuroAsia is a common theme.

          So that's a market. Russia & China also have a lot of capital. Want a VVER-1200 instead of 1,200 windmills? Russia's been busily building those, complete with vendor financing. So countries that take those deals get reliable energy for much less than we're paying EDF.

          Sure there's more capital in the form of dollars, but if there's less dollar denominated trade, a huge dollar surplus just means a lot of US inflation as the dollar devalues.

          And yep, Russia is OK with Huawei & ZTE, as are other countries. The kit is good, cheap and you normally design around security risks. Nations just have weigh up their own risks.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Russian Telecoms

 already mostly Chinese technology, it transpires. They could either run 2,5G Russian technology or simply buy 4G, 5G Chinese. Also, Russia and China are allies, if you haven't figured that by now.

          It is much more surprising Germany and Britain did the same thing for a long time.

  6. Len

    I don't think many Chinese companies will defy the sanctions

    I don't think many Chinese companies will defy the sanctions. Sure, there is an economic incentive to keep selling to Russia but let's not forget that the market is small.

    We often see the size of the Russian economy compared to Italy but that is nonsense. Before the sanctions the Italian economy was almost 25% larger than the Russian economy. A more accurate comparison is Spain. The Russian economy was slightly bigger than Spain's but the Russian population is about 70% poorer than Spain's. In a list of 50 European countries ranked by GDP per Capita (PPP) Russia held the 40th place, sandwiched between Croatia and Bulgaria. The Russian Federation had officially fallen from a high income country to a middle income country a few years ago. And this was all before the introduction of probably the harshest economic sanctions ever agreed.

    We're likely going to see a massive rise in unemployment in Russia now many foreign companies have left and many Russian companies are expected to default on their foreign loans. This will directly impact the purchasing power of the Russian consumer and Russian companies looking for suppliers. I seriously doubt many Chinese company will risk becoming the next Huawei (who ultimately got done for breaking the sanctions against Iran through a 'front store' company called Skycom) by selling into a relatively small and poor market.

    The Chinese government may be slightly favourable to Russia, I don't expect many Chinese companies will.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: I don't think many Chinese companies will defy the sanctions

      So who gets harmed in a default?

      So I'm the Bank of Eel. I've lent say $10bn to Russian companies. Or Western companies like say, Ford or GM who've invested the money in building Russian factories. Or I've got emerging markets funds that face closure because they can't trade.

      So there's a default, and I'm out >$10bn. Or my customers have to close and abandon their Russian subsidiaries, increasing the risk of default. Or supply chain disruption does that anyway.

      Russia can just keep the money. Sure, it may harm credit rating, but only if I need to borrow. Which is no big deal because Western banks can't lend anyway. Maybe there'll be debt collectors, but the bank can't hire Russian lawyers to litigate because that's sanctioned as well.

      And then Russia might nationalise 'abandoned' foreign assets and get a bunch of free factories. Oh, and the prospect of de-dollarisation is becoming reality.

      There's a neat example of cognitive dissonance at the moment with energy. We need it, Russia and China have it. We're supposed to reduce our reliance on Russian oil & gas. Ecofreaks and the 'renewables' lobby think we should throw billions more their way.

      But where do windmills and solar panels come from, or the raw materials used in their construction?

      1. Len

        Re: I don't think many Chinese companies will defy the sanctions

        How those company defaults are going to pan out will be quite interesting. It’s indeed not a normal situation so the fallout is quite unpredictable at the moment. The biggest hit will probably be for a few major US banks that were counter party to these loans.

        Interestingly the loan repayment on sovereign debt that the Russian government had to make two weeks ago was an entirely New York affair. The Russian govt owed the money to Goldman Sachs but Russian government reserves were held by Citibank. Citibank had to get an approval for the funds to be transferred from Citi to GS and that is was happened in the end. The bill was paid but the money never left New York.

        I am by no means an expert on this but I believe there are some interesting precedents with Argentinian defaults and successful (if very lengthy) recovery of money through various international courts. I can imagine that, would the Russian government decide to nationalise certain assets, lawyers for the debtors would argue that a debt is now owed by the Russian government and would try to claim against the billions of dollars and euros that Russia holds in foreign banks.

        A similar thing might happen with the $10bn worth of leased planes that Russia has now effectively stolen. Those planes can’t fly Internationally any more for risk of being impounded and with sums like that, the lawyers for the leasing companies will have a lot of way to go before it becomes uneconomical to attempt compensation.

        As for energy. It’s definitely a temporary major headache. Let’s, however, not exaggerate the hold that “Russia and China” would have. First of all, China is a major net importer of energy (Australia got rich by selling coal to China) so they have no role in disrupting global markets and likely also no desire, China’s most valuable markets are Europe and North America. Secondly, Russia is a big player in the oil space but that still only constitutes about 12.5% of global oil sales. Many other countries sell oil and gas too, and in large quantities.

        I think what we will see is that, for a decade or so, some countries will have to deal with other regimes to buy oil that they may have been less keen to work with in other times. Venezuela, many of the Gulf states, some North African countries.

        And that is just oil. Six of the ten biggest electricity exporters in the world are European. Two out of ten biggest gas exporters in the world are European.

        All in all this will spur an enormous extra incentive, now with added economic benefits due to high wholesale prices, into alternative energy forms. I have a client in the hydrogen space (hydrogen is not really a source of energy but definitely a growing store of energy) who are already seeing (within three weeks!) that countries that had hydrogen ambitions have suddenly opened up the spending taps to accelerate reducing dependence on Russia. High fossil fuel prices always improve the return on investment of renewables projects.

        As for solar panels and wind turbines. I am not aware of Russia playing any serious role in those areas. China does to some extent but they will not stop selling to their biggest markets to appease a dictator in one of their client states.

        I think, on the whole, the energy shake up caused by the invasion will cause an awkward decade for some countries. In the medium term I think Russia has shot itself in the foot, however, as I don’t see the Chinese willing (or able) to pay the Russians for energy as much as the Europeans used to do. And I don't see European countries coming back to buy fossil fuels from Russia in a decade or so. That trade is dead for good.

        My main area of concern is other minerals and metals. Russia has quite a bit of commodities that have become more important and I suspect that is going to turn out a bigger headache than energy. Watch that space.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: I don't think many Chinese companies will defy the sanctions

          Yup, we're living in interesting times, and lots of billable hours ahead.

          I wonder how it fits into contract law when defaults are effectively forced by sovereign actors. Or if the legality of sanctions will also be tested. I suspect there's precedent with debts & defaults from other conflicts. Presumably the debt survives, but isn't really in default if a 3rd party is preventing payment. I think Argentina was different given the state couldn't or wouldn't pay.

          On energy, Russia's role is probably more as a supplier of raw materials. Then again, it's also a bit awkward for Finland, Hungary, Slovakia, Turkey etc who are running, or building Russian reactors. It'll take a lot windmills and solar panels to deliver the equivalent of a VVER-1200. UK's supposed to be delivering it's latest attempt at an energy policy, and hopefully someone's looked at how lousy the ROI for wind has been over the last week.

          I'm also curious about the legality of sanctioning individuals and their assets, which seems to have been justified purely on the basis of proximity to Putin rather than any illegality. For stranded assets in Russia, I guess a quick push into bankruptcy & discreet auction of the assets would make it legal. Ish. Would seem doable, especially if sanctions mean foreign owners can't pay Russian taxes, payroll etc.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Windmills+Solar: Mao's Useful Is

            If you really think wind+solar can replace methane, Uranium, Coal and oil, well then you should enjoy living in Germany. Rail transport is already sometimes infeasible due to excessive electricity prices.

            Wind+solar are transient energy source and no useful storage (weeks of consumption) has yet been built. Hydrodams in the mountains are too small for this !

            In other words, proponents of Wind+Solar are the useful ones of LUBJANKA and BEIJING intel.

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: Windmills+Solar: Mao's Useful Is

              It'll be fine. Diesel supplies might be running out across Europe, but this just shows politicians were right to decarbonise transport and force migration to EEVs. Your deliveries may be delayed while we wait for someone to develop a viable electric semi.

              (On which point, must check Tesla's semi launch presentation. It included some optimistic cost comparisons based on a rather low kWh price for electricity)

              But being an engineer, I'm very much opposed to 'renewables'. Our ancestors were as well given we gave up on wind power as soon as we had something better.

              (You'll know the world's really gone mad when the world's first sailing LNG gets launched. Or Drax launches the Wood Chip Clipper so it can be really Green while it's burning forests.)

              Same with storage. I know grid-scale storage of electricity is astronomicaly expensive. It's also pointless given gas, coal and nuclear can do baseload and load following. The only 'need' to waste billions on storage is because of 'renewables' fundamental intermittency.

              But I have a Green solution to hydro. UK lacks suitable locations. UK will have millions of illegal ICEs to dispose of. So use those to sculpt Mt Gaia as a hydro mountain monument to the past. Lots of radiators and hoses, so it'll be fine. Alternatively, we could use windmills to compress air. Then just pipe that into old engines, which moves the pistons, spins the alternator and creates electricity. Might take a while to charge a 100kWh battery, but it'll be Green.

              My favorite is still extending CCS to it's logical conclusion. Produce CO2, capture carbon and oxygen. Compress the carbon into it's densest allotrope, creating a 'super coal’ (aka 'diamond'). Burn diamond in the O2 you made earlier. Enough electricity to power thousands of homes! And it's totally sustainable because burning the diamond transforms it back into CO2, so it can be recycled into more diamonds!

              Ok, so few snags to work through, but mostly thermodynamics. Not something most Greens seem very familiar with. Also diamond still has a much lower energy density than uranium or plutonium. Now, back to desktop designing converting an MKZT- 79221 into a mobile prospecting rig / RV.

        2. Fred Daggy Silver badge

          Re: I don't think many Chinese companies will defy the sanctions

          Not to disagree with your numbers, I am assuming its correct. But the issue with Russian oil is its relative proximity to Europe. This is piped. To ship oil from other sources will take some major expansion of ports.

          Not saying it can't be done, but it needs time and money.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: I don't think many Chinese companies will defy the sanctions

        Economically sanctions act to drive up the risk premium. If the counterparty then goes on to default, the risk premium is likely to become unaffordable.

        That said, Russia did largely manage to avoid the full pain of sanctions post 2014. This was largely down to the profits made by rising prices on essential resources. However, strip the economy of energy resources and you'll see that it has been in decline for over a decade. This is why Russia continues to lose trained personnel, essential if you want to build up "substitute economy" and nowhere is this more apparent than in the armed forces which have thus far been shown to be far worse equipped than most imaginged. Though this is as much down to the kleptocracy as any inability to make parts.

    2. avakum.zahov

      Re: I don't think many Chinese companies will defy the sanctions

      "In a list of 50 European countries ranked by GDP per Capita (PPP) Russia held the 40th place, sandwiched between Croatia and Bulgaria." - Ah, I see the problem here. Many still consider Russia part of Europe.

      1. Len

        Re: I don't think many Chinese companies will defy the sanctions

        A serious chunk of the Russian Federation is in Asia but most of its population and economy is in Europe and I don't see that change any time soon.

        1. Jim Mitchell

          Re: I don't think many Chinese companies will defy the sanctions

          There is the geologic view of the world, in which Russia is on the European continent, and the reality view, in which Russia is part of Pariah-land, not Europe.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Len - Re: I don't think many Chinese companies will defy the sanctions

      You forget one important aspect.

      For the past few years, US has been constantly mistreating Chinese companies and China in general.I'm not discussing here if they were right or not. However, what do you expect a company like Huawei that has been shot down by the Americans to do now ? Just fold, step out of business and advise Chinese government to buy American technology ? You know very well that helping US against Russia will not improve China's situation at all. Chinese companies will never be allowed back to US and their lapdo... sorry, allies. China has to make a tough choice right now because once US is done with Russia, they will be next in line. They have a choice to face US wrath now or later.

      We're living interesting times, I tell you.

  7. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

    The USA will use any excuse to preserve its hegemony

    The USA is not a good country. It is now actively trying to prevent China's rise by pretty much any means short of actual war. But war is being planned. Taiwan is being armed by US missiles - a fact which is not lost to China. I think that China has had enough of being lectured by fat Americans who only bring war to the world.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: The USA will use any excuse to preserve its hegemony

      I think the Taiwanese have had enough of being told they must bow to the CCP eventually.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: The USA will use any excuse to preserve its hegemony

        I think the Taiwanese have had enough of being told they must bow to the CCP eventually.

        Especially as the Taiwanese also consider themselves to be the rightful rulers of the once to be reunited China, instead of those communist insurgents in Beijing.

        1. Yes Me Silver badge

          Re: The USA will use any excuse to preserve its hegemony

          I don't think that's true except for a tiny (and very old) faction of the residual KMT. Most Taiwanese are much more pragmatic: they prefer democracy and don't trust China because of what's happened in Hong Kong.

        2. Stork Silver badge

          Re: The USA will use any excuse to preserve its hegemony

          There seems to be a sizeable part of the Taiwanese who would happily drop the claim on mainland China against formal independence

    2. Ghostman

      Re: The USA will use any excuse to preserve its hegemony

      "But war is being planned." Could you quote your sources?

      "Taiwan is being armed with US missiles-a fact not lost on China" Well, we've backed them for over 70 years with more than missiles, so I'm pretty sure that China could just about tell you where the missiles are and their capability. No news there.

      "I think China has had enough of being lectured by fat Americans who only bring war." The US really doesn't want to bring war and try to prevent it as much as humanly possible. Many legislators have had experience with war, Vietnam, Grenada, Persian Gulf, and other conflicts and don't wish to send other Americans off to fight if we don't have to. But then again, we don't back down to support those who are being oppressed or invaded.

      I'm just wondering if this is from a Russian dis-information bot, or a Chinese one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Ghostman - Re: The USA will use any excuse to preserve its hegemony

        "The US really doesn't want to bring war and try to prevent it as much as humanly possible."

        I like how you're trying to humanize a country that is number one in total quantity of bombs dropped after the WWII. And author of largest chemical warfare in post WWI era. Just do the totals and prove me wrong. You're right though when you say US doesn't want to send their troupes to fight but now that they discovered they can some other poor bastards to die for them situation is different.

        You don't need to be Chinese or Russian to see this, a lot of other nations do.

        A simple Google search points to:

        [quote]In fact the United States dropped 8 million tons of bombs in Indochina between 1962 and 1973, compared with a total of around 4 million tons dropped by all the warring nations in the Second World War.[/quote] and it's not like they were defending their homeland.

        Not bad at all for a country that doesn't want war.

      2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: The USA will use any excuse to preserve its hegemony

        Why only 2 disinfobot vendors?

        I know that's been a meme since before Clinton lost the election to Trump. Remember how Putin was puppeting Trump via a secret Alfa Bank channel? Couple of prosecutions later, turns out that was just a smear job. Or the Biden laptops. MSM rallied around to call that 'Russian disinformation'. Now, it's looking like those were real, and the MSM is looking stupid.

        Or there's an interesting story developing wrt to Abramovich allegedly being poisoned. Strange given he's been sanctioned for being friends with Putin. Apparently all previous poisonings were personally authorised by Putin, although this one was done by unspecified 'hard liners'. Russian of course, because who else might have means, motive and opportunity.

        Then again, the Bbc's source isn't exactly reliable.

    3. DoctorPaul

      Re: The USA will use any excuse to preserve its hegemony

      Interesting handle, but you missed out a couple of letters.



      Sorry everyone, I don't usually feed the trolls but my IBS is playing up and I'm in a foul mood.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The USA will use any excuse to preserve its hegemony

        My dear, Doctor, You don't agree US is trying to stop China by any means short of a war ? I guess I've had too much of Chinese propaganda then. My mistake.

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: The USA will use any excuse to preserve its hegemony

          You know, what you say would carry more weight if your weren't "yet another AC". Posting anon suggests that you don't care to own your words.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not?

    The companies are Chinese companies, so what business is it of the US if they do business outside of the US. Or when is the rest of the world going to be able to elect members to Congress?

    1. Len

      Re: Why not?

      Those Chinese companies can, of course, keep trading with Russia.

      There is a downside, though, and that is how these sanctions work. The US and EU have imposed sanctions and they essentially say that any company that doesn't stick to those sanctions cannot trade with them. Considering the US and EU are the most advanced markets in the world that consist of the world's largest chunk of the wealthiest people, for many companies it means a big impact if you lose them as your market.

      An additional complication is that many Chinese products contain technologies or components from the US or EU, giving them additional leverage.

      The bigger the economic power the more potential for declaring effective sanctions. That is also why sanctions by, let's say, Australia or Zambia don't really make a dent and so don't get talked about as much as those from the big ones.

      1. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: Why not?

        >The bigger the economic power the more potential for declaring effective sanctions.

        Unfortunately, if you abuse that power then you destroy the power of those sanctions.

        The US isn't actually a very big market for China. Its big, obviously, but not that huge compared to their internal and other export markets. Meanwhile the economic leverage works both ways. For example, I read only yesterday about how Boeing has taken a very big hit to its bottom line because the Chinese have stopped buying their airliners (China is apparently the world's biggest aviation market at the moment). The countries also control raw materials and key processes. Disturbing the trade balance to achieve narrow political ends will backfire.

        There was an article recently in the Washington Post about the number of US/Western retail outlets that have shuttered their operations in Russia. The example quoted (apart from the ubiqutous McDonalds) wa a shopping street in Moscow where now ordinary Russians are deprived of the opportunity to buy Versace and the like. This shows a lack of perspective -- I live quite close to Rodeo Drive but I don't go shopping there -- I have never bought anything there and I don't know anyone who has. This is not the reality of ordinary people. For me, as an American, I'm getting a bit tired of empty store shelves (grocery stores, that is), rapidly rising prices and extended delivery for even quite mundane items....I never thought I'd see the day when Amazon's delivery times extends to weeks but its becoming the norm, not the exception. Our leaders play with us but they know that most of us are tame -- we swallow what we're told which conveniently covers for their own incompetence and greed.

  9. martinusher Silver badge

    What, exactly, is "American Technology"?

    Taken to extremes you could say that the billions of light bulbs produced and sold by China over the years were "American technology".** At what point does 'American technology' become just plain old 'technology'? To me it sounds very much like Humpty Dumpty:-

    “When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

    ’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

    ’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

    This is also a key theory behind American jurisprudence -- the laws are entirely what we can get courts to enforce. In short, the only legal reason the US government needs is "Because we said so. Anyone care to argue?".

    (**And yes, I know all about Joseph Swan. But he's not American so he doesn't count.)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wish we lived in a world where the executives at Ericcson who paid off ISIS would get the same punishment I would have, if I got caught paypalling $100 to ISIS. That'd be, what, 5 to 10 years imprisonment for me, for funding terrorism? For them, it's a cushy non-prosecution-agreement-with-no-admission-of-liability so long as they pay another bribe to the US government. Fuck the world I want to get off.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      There are better and more pleasurable ways to spend $100 illegally...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Patent portfolios don't prove much

    other than you had enough money to get all those patents filed.

    Seriously a lot of patents are trivial and obvious, I could have had dozens by now if I could afford it and didn't think it morally wrong to scare people into not using my obvious ideas which I probably couldn't protect if it actually came up in court.

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