Ministry closing in on syndicate over illegal sale of subsidised cooking oil in Sandakan

KOTA KINABALU: The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry is hot on the heels of a syndicate that is believed to have profited millions of ringgit from the illegal sale of subsidised cooking oil in Sabah’s east coast Sandakan district.

The syndicate is believed to have been operating for about a year now, selling subsidised cooking oil to industrial consumers at a lower price compared to the RM7,600 per metric tonne industry rate which fluctuates according to the global price.

Industrial consumers such as factories are not allowed to purchase the subsidised cooking oil which is only meant for end users.

The authorities are also investigating whether this syndicate has been exporting the controlled item outside the country.

This is after the Sandakan Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs office seized some 17,500kg of various brands of subsidised cooking oil during a raid at an unnumbered house at Mile 9 on June 16 (Thursday).

Azdy (left) inspecting a machine used to pump the cooking oil into the tanker lorry.Azdy (left) inspecting a machine used to pump the cooking oil into the tanker lorry.

District Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs enforcement chief Azdy John said they stormed the premises after conducting a week of surveillance on the hive of activity going on at the premises, which doubled as a store house as well as a processing centre.

He said the premises did not possess the necessary authorisation nor any valid licence to store controlled goods such as cooking oil.

“Further checks found that there was a tanker lorry and a skid tank used to store the cooking oil,” he said, when contacted on Saturday (June 18).

According to a source, scores of boxes containing packets of 1kg subsidised cooking oil were constantly being sent to the location for “repackaging”.

However, the packets of oil will instead be emptied into a large plastic drum before being pumped into the skid tank and subsequently into the tanker lorry.

The tanker lorry will then transport the oil to interested buyers, directly selling to them at RM5,800 per metric tonne.

The source also said that the syndicate was able to process some 10,000 boxes of subsidised cooking oil a month, adding it could roughly generate at least RM3mil monthly through the sale of the subsidised cooking oil.

When asked about this, Azdy said they were still investigating whether this was true but noted that a local man present during their sting operation claimed that he owned the store house and the items in it.

“We believe the syndicate has been illegally selling the subsidised cooking oil since over a year ago,” he said.

He added that they have since seized the tanker lorry, skid tank, a pumping machine and the cooking oil which were all estimated to be worth over RM98,750.

“We have arrested the man, in his 30s, for further probe under Section 21 of the Control of Supplies Act 1961 for having controlled goods without valid papers and having the intent to commit an offence with the goods.

“An investigation will also be launched under Section 20(1) of the same Act for storing controlled goods in an unauthorised location,” Azdy said.

Efforts are also afoot to identify the mastermind behind the syndicate and others involved in the illegal activity, he added.

Towards this end, Azdy warned factories repacking the 1kg subsidised cooking oil in the district not to sell the item to buyers who have not obtained the necessary written approval required from the ministry to purchase the oil.

“The ministry will not hesitate to take action on anyone caught flouting the law. Continuous monitoring and operations will be mounted to curb this illegal activity.

“As such, the public is advised to report any misconduct or criminal activities,” he said.

The people can reach out to the ministry either through their WhatsApp number at 019-279 4317 or 019-848 8000, or complaints portal, call centre number at 1-800-886-800 or email directly to