The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said the Insolvency Service will carry out the probe under section 447 of Companies Act, which obliges companies to cooperate.
“The purpose of the inquiry is to investigate the circumstances surrounding its insolvency and to establish whether further action is required,” a BIS spokesperson said, but declined to comment further.
The probe comes amid anger and questions among staff and MPs, wanting to know why the retailer fell into administration less than a year after it was acquired for £2 by Henry Jackson’s private equity group Opcapita. Opcapita said it intends to “assist fully” with the fact-finding inquiry. A report by Deloitte on Monday showed Comet’s owner will recover £50m from the winding down of the chain. Unsecured creditors, who are owed £232m, will get nothing.
The government will step in to pay £24m towards redundancy payments for thousands of Comet staff. As one of the unsecured creditors, it is owed £26.2m in VAT and payroll taxes.