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Companies Investigation Branch

About the Companies Investigation Branch

Companies Investigation Branch (CIB) is part of the regulatory arm of the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR). Prior to the creation of BERR, it was part of the Department of Trade & Industry.

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

In a free market, all those who deal with companies whether as investors, suppliers or consumers should be protected from misconduct or unscrupulous practices. 

We all need to feel confident in our dealings with the business community. As investors, creditors and consumers, we need to know our money is secure, and have trust in corporate Britain.

Without this confidence, investment, sales and markets fall. We need to keep promoting confidence.

Not only is confidence enhanced by transparency and accountability, but by an effective and discerning system of regulation. Our approach to this 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.

Under the Companies Acts we have the power to investigate companies. When we receive information about the behaviour of particular companies we will assess that information to see whether or not it would be appropriate for us to attend on that company, and ask them to provide us with documents and information. This allows us to come to a view as to whether or not there are grounds for action in the wider public interest and decide what action we should take.

We do not carry out criminal investigations - those are better left to the police - although our investigations may provide the basis for a  subsequent  criminal enquiry.  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.

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 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.
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