(Reuters) – Two consulting firms hired to help the United States police ZTE Corp’s compliance with trade sanctions have resigned, according to four people familiar with the matter.

China’s second-largest telecommunications company agreed earlier this year to pay a nearly $900 million penalty – the largest in a U.S. export controls case – and open its books to a U.S. monitor as part of a guilty plea for illegally shipping goods to Iran and North Korea. To read the Reuters report that exposed the practice, click goo.gl/rvNwr6

Guidepost Solutions and Larkin Trade International were hired in June by the U.S. monitor in charge of the oversight regime – Texas lawyer James Stanton – to help assess the company’s compliance with U.S. export control and sanctions laws, and reduce its risk of future misconduct, said the people, who wished to remain unnamed because the matter is not public.

In late August, the two firms parted ways with the monitor after clashing over his approach to the job, the people said. Although Reuters was unable to determine the exact reasons for the departure , Stanton initially restricted the consultants’ access to ZTE documents and officials, hindering their ability to help monitor the company, one of the people said.

Stanton did not respond to multiple phone calls and emails seeking comment. 

Tina Larkin, the chief financial officer of Larkin International, declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for Guidepost Solutions.

A lawyer for ZTE declined to discuss the departure of the consulting firms, or the company’s relationship with the monitor.

“We’re looking to be…

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