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Companies Investigation Branch

About the Companies Investigation Branch (CIB)

CIB is part of the regulatory arm of the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS). Prior to the creation of BIS, it was part of the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI).

Although CIB is located within the Insolvency Service, an Executive Agency of BIS, it is not limited to companies that have become insolvent. In fact, most of our investigations are into companies that are actively trading. Please see our “Frequently Asked Questions” for details of what we can and cannot investigate.

The Role of CIB

One of BIS’s objectives is to “Deliver free and fair markets …ensuring markets work to the benefit of business, investors, employees and consumers, and for law enforcement to deter fraud”. This includes dealing with misconduct or unscrupulous practices, whether or not this amounts to fraud.

CIB contributes to this objective by exercising the powers to investigate companies under the Companies Acts.

When we receive information about the behaviour of a company we will assess that information to see whether or not it would be appropriate for us to attend on that company and require it to provide us with documents and information. This allows us to come to a view as to whether further action, and if so what action, is required in the wider public interest.

Our approach is to take a proportionate and realistic view of issues brought to our attention, and to investigate aspects of corporate behaviour which might harm both the business community and the public generally.

We also carry out a risk assessment of each case to ensure that those cases with a higher level of risk to the public are given priority.

Our investigations are confidential, and that is why we do not tell complainants whether or not we are going to investigate, or, when we do decide to investigate, tell the company’s directors the reasons why we are doing so or who has complained.

We do not carry out criminal investigations - those are better left to other bodies such as the police or BIS’s Prosecution Lawyers - though our investigations may provide the basis for a subsequent criminal enquiry.

Please note that we cannot intervene in any dispute between individuals and a company, be they creditors, shareholders or the company’s own management - although we may investigate the issues giving rise to the dispute if there is a wider public interest in doing so.

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