Batam, Riau Islands (ANTARA) - An official from the Commission for the Supervision of Business Competition’s (KPPU’s) regional office has confirmed that the investigation into a suspected cartel operated by Batam-Singapore ferry businesses is still on.

"The KPPU is still scrutinizing reports on the suspected Batam-Singapore ferry cartel," Head of the KPPU's Regional I Office in Medan,l Ridho Pamungkas said here on Friday.

The commission has held discussions with the Riau Islands legislature and business associations affiliated with the Batam Chamber of Commerce and Industry regarding reports of the suspected cartel, he added.

"We have also clarified reports made to KPPU and are now collecting on-site data and information," the regional office head informed.

The investigation team will not be required to seek clarifications regarding the reports from ferry operators if sufficient data and information are obtained during the report clarification process, he said.

To complete the investigation of data and analysis, the KPPU has requested data and written statements from ferry operators and relevant stakeholders in Batam, he added.

So far, the KPPU has not been able to confirm the veracity of reports regarding the suspected cartel, as the current information obtained by the commission merely pertains to suspected collusion among operators for fixing ferry prices.

According to the team, a sudden and significant hike in ferry crossing fees by all ferry operators would indicate the presence of a cartel.

As ferry companies operate various ships with different specifications and operational fees, it is not logical when ferry operators increase the crossing fee to the same rate, he explained.

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Pamungkas warned that companies found involved in cartel practices could face a minimum fine of Rp1 billion (US$67 thousand) and a maximum fine of ten percent of sales, or 50 percent of profits obtained while colluding with the cartel, as per Law No. 5 of 1999 on the Prohibition of Monopoly and Unhealthy Business Competition.

Besides imposing a hefty fine, KPPU can instruct businesses to withdraw from the cartel and return to the market mechanism and recommend further monitoring against non-business entities proven to participate in the cartel to relevant authorities, he added.

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Translator: Ilham Yude P, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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