Several former partners of folded PR firm Bell Pottinger are being investigated by the Insolvency Service.
The company collapsed a year ago following a scandal over its work for the Indian Gupta family in South Africa, where it was accused of deliberately stoking up racial tensions in the country.
Letters have been sent to the partners telling them the investigation will hone in on the case, which triggered the company’s collapse last year.
After the investigation, the Insolvency Service will make a decision on whether civil proceedings can be launched against the disgraced communications company.
While working for the Gupta family, Bell Pottinger led a campaign using fake social media accounts which stirred up racial tensions and provoked anger about “white monopoly capital” in order to divert attention from the family and their strong links to South African President Jacob Zuma through their firm Oakbay Investments.
Following the scandal, Bell Pottinger’s chief exec James Henderson was forced to resign, before the company became only the second City firm to be chucked out of industry trade body the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA).
Shortly after that, the company lost a number of its most important clients due to the damage the scandal had caused, before it was eventually put into administration in September 2017 following a failed fire sale.
Co-founder of the company and former spin doctor for Margaret Thatcher Lord Bell told The Sunday Times he was “not surprised” the Insolvency Service had launched an investigation into the firm.
“I think there is a lot of wrongdoing by people at Bell Pottinger and I am not surprised that it is being investigated,” he said. “They did things that were unspeakable. They did things to me that were unspeakable and they did things to others that were unspeakable.”