SEOUL — Seoul prosecutors said they will decide by Oct. 11 whether to indict 17 South Koreans on charges of conspiring to evade Korean tax law in connection with the sale of 56,000 cases of Area 1 base beer to local businesses.

The Seoul Customs Office forwarded the charges to the Seoul Central Prosecutors Office on Sept. 21, according to Choe Sang-gi, with the prosecutors office’s foreign affairs division.

Customs officials have said two of the 17 suspects work for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. Kwon Ju-sung of the customs office said an 18th suspect, whom he identified as an AAFES store manager, died Aug. 1 after jumping from the roof of his apartment building.

AAFES spokeswoman Judd Anstey, at the Dallas headquarters, said last week that inventory officials are aware of the investigation but could provide no other details.

U.S. Forces Korea officials have said the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division has been cooperating with the Korea-led investigation.

The black-market scam moved duty-free beer, valued at $1.5 million, to local businesses, according to U.S. and South Korean officials.

“We are continuously reviewing our security procedures to prevent unlawful transfer of goods to non-SOFA personnel,” USFK said last week in an e-mailed statement. “These alleged actions, by a few individuals, are in no way indicative of the integrity and superior moral character displayed by our Korean employees every day.”

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