DTI has seven months to decide on possible Unwins case

Unwins creditors are "in dialogue" with the Department of Trade & Industry over a potential criminal investigation into the activity of chairman Phillip Cook.

The creditors' committee - including Diageo, InBev and Revenue & Customs - has used what little cash it was able to salvage from the collapsed off-licence chain to fund its own report into the activities of Unwins directors prior to its closure at the end of 2005.

A DTI investigator is examining the report and must make a decision about possible action within seven months. Should the department decide against a criminal investigation, it will effectively be the final chapter in the Unwins saga.

Danny Matthews, operations manager at administrator KPMG, said: "We've sold most of the shops, we've only got two to sell and we're coming to the end of our asset realisation phase. The bank has been paid off but there won't be any money for unsecured creditors."