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Companies Investigation Branch
How We Do It 

When we receive a complaint we first see whether or not the organisation complained about is one which we can investigate. The page entitled ‘What we do not do’ tells you what we cannot investigate.

Then we see what other information we can get about the company, both from the person who has complained and from other sources, and assess the extent to which the activities of the company may pose a threat to the public in general. This process is known as Vetting.

Where we decide that there is sufficient good reason to investigate, and that an investigation is in the wider public interest, we will appoint investigators.

Although this appointment is made by the Secretary of State, the appointment document will be signed by a Departmental official who has the authority to do so.

Investigations are usually carried out by CIB staff. They may however be carried out by other professionals with the necessary expertise, but under the supervision of CIB. The investigators will, if required, produce copies of their authorities and identity cards.

The investigator(s) will then call at the company’s premises (often unannounced) and talk to the company’s officers. They will ask questions of those who appear to be in charge and require sight of documents which they feel will be useful in the enquiry, taking photocopies of anything they consider to be important. The investigator also has the facility to obtain electronic copies of information held on computers.

Investigators can demand detailed information not only from the company’s directors, but also from other company employees and third parties who may be in possession of relevant documents and information.

The time taken to investigate will depend on many factors, but in particular the complexity of the issues and the extent of co-operation received. Our published target is to complete 90% of investigations within 6 months, but in practice the majority are completed much sooner than this.

Once our investigators are satisfied that all the necessary information has been obtained, they will consider it with a view to recommending whether or not the Department needs to take follow up action. If necessary they will obtain legal advice.

Any appropriate follow up action identified and agreed will be taken.

For further details of the legal basis on which our investigations are carried out please refer to “The Law” page on this Website.


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