On August 31, 2020, the US Department of Justice announced that Yang Ban Corporation, a company established in the British Virgin Islands that operated exclusively in Southeast Asia, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder monetary instruments in connection with evading sanctions on North Korea and deceiving correspondent banks into processing US dollar transactions for its North Korean customers. As part of its guilty plea, Yang Ban will pay a penalty of almost $674,000, agreed to implement rigorous anti-money laundering controls and cooperate fully with the DOJ, including an agreement to report any criminal conduct by its employees.
Yang Ban was aware of its need to distance itself from North Korean front companies, admitting that in 2016 it instructed an employee to inform a North Korean customer that it could not use a related company for further business due to bank restrictions on such transactions. However, according to admissions and court documents, from February 2017 to May 2018 Yang Ban deceived banks into processing transactions for North Korean customers and used front companies to conceal the connection to North Korea. Yang Ban also admitted that it conspired with companies, including SINSMS, a subsequently designated company, to falsify shipping records to conceal transactions for North Korean customers by using two sets of shipping documents – one that omitted references to North Korea and one internal record that contained the North Korea details.