JAKARTA - Authorities in Indonesia say they have investigated two dozen companies on suspicion of collaborating to hoard rice, beef and other staples to manipulate prices.
The Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU) on Monday said the firms could face fines or criminal prosecution.
"In mid-September we’ll begin the trial. For certain they are all big companies. Only big companies could control a cartel," said KPPU Chairman Muhammad Syarkawi Rauf.
He added that sanctions could range from administrative fines and revoking permits to criminal charges, which would be processed by the police.
National Police chief Badrodin Haiti said his institution would hunt down those who intentionally hoard food supplies, resulting in price hikes and forcing the country to rely on imports.
"All import products suspected of deviation would be investigated by the police. Why? Because there are efforts resulting in our dependency on imports," he said.
He also said seven companies are currently being investigated by his officers, who are looking at the possibility of using the Terrorism Act to prosecute suspected firms.
President Joko Widodo has threatened to take firm actions against all parties involved in the price hikes.
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Indonesian service.