Muhammad Aulia, Jakarta – The director-general of foreign trade in the Trade Ministry has been named a corruption suspect for illegally issuing export licenses of crude palm oil, Attorney General Sanitiar Burhanuddin announced on Tuesday.
Indrasari Wisnu Wardana is accused of issuing the CPO export permit to companies not eligible to do so. He is also the acting chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Regulatory Agency (Bappebti).
The graft investigation came after the world's biggest CPO producer faced a nationwide cooking oil shortage that caused prices to soar and prompted the government to ration supplies and intervene in the market.
"A top echelon official at the Trade Ministry named IWW, who serves as the foreign trade director-general, has unlawfully issued export licenses of crude palm oil and its derivative products," Burhanuddin said in a video conference, naming the suspect by initials.
Three businessmen were also named corruption suspects in the same case.
"The three suspects have made intense communication with IWW so that the following companies: Permata Hijau Group, Wilmar Nabati, Multimas Nabati Asahan, and Musim Mas obtained the export license," Burhanuddin.
"Those aforementioned companies aren't listed as ones eligible to obtain the CPO export license," he added.
The top prosecutor revealed that the graft investigation was triggered by widespread cooking oil shortages across the country.
"This is a big irony that Indonesia as the world's biggest CPO producer is dealing with cooking oil shortage," he said.
The government has been forced to allocate a significant budget to intervene in the market and keep cooking oil affordable for many, Burhanuddin said.
In February, the government imposed a ceiling price of Rp 11,500 per liter for bulk cooking oil, Rp 13,500 for non-branded packed cooking oil, and Rp 14,000 for branded cooking oil.
The ceiling price was lifted in mid-March and supplies returned to normal but with higher prices than before.
Trade Minister Muhammad Lutfi said separately his office will fully cooperate with the Attorney General's Office in the investigation.
"The Trade Ministry supports the ongoing legal proceedings and is committed to providing any information needed in this investigation," Lutfi told Antara news agency.
"I have instructed all staff members of the ministry to support the ongoing law enforcement process because corruption and misuse of power will only inflict losses to the state, affect the national economy, and cause damages to the community," he added.