UPDATE 1-Indonesia's anti-trust body fines cooking oil firms for restricting supply
(Updates story from Friday with comment from Wilmar Group in paragraphs 7 and 8)
By Dewi Kurniawati
JAKARTA, May 26 (Reuters) - Indonesia's anti-monopoly agency (KPPU) ordered seven cooking oil companies on Friday to pay fines of up to $2.8 million for restricting sales amid scarce supplies last year.
KPPU launched an investigation into the conduct of cooking oil companies last year after the Indonesian government placed a temporary cap on surging retail prices of the essential product and later a three-week export ban on palm oil.
Indonesia is the world's biggest producer of palm oil, commonly used as cooking oil.
Seven out of 27 companies investigated were found guilty of limiting distribution of their branded cooking oils while the retail price cap was in place in early 2022, said Dinni Melanie, who chaired the KPPU panel.
The seven companies include Salim Ivomas Pratama , a unit of Indonesia's largest food company Indofood Group, as well as two units of Wilmar Group.
The companies were ordered to pay fines ranging from 1 billion rupiah ($68,050.36) to 40.9 billion rupiah ($2.78 million).
Wilmar said in an e-mail to Reuters on Saturday it was disappointed with the decision and believed the facts "may have been misconstrued" by KPPU.
"During the relevant period ... our cooking oil operations specifically, and our industry generally, were affected by severe supply chain issues that had an impact on cooking oil delivery," Wilmar's spokesperson said.
Salim Ivomas did not respond to Reuters' requests for comment.
All 27 companies that KPPU investigated were acquitted on charges of price fixing.
($1 = 14,695.0000 rupiah) (Reporting by Dewi Kurniawati; Editing by Susan Fenton and Tom Hogue)