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L&H lays off 1200 staff

Founder faces money laundering allegations

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Lernout & Hauspie is to lay off 1200 staff, while one of its founders faces a probe over alleged money laundering.

The speech recognition software maker today said it would bin 20 per cent of its workforce in a bid to cut costs.

"Unfortunately, after an extensive and careful analysis of L&H's existing resources, we were unable to identify any alternatives to this measure," said John Duerden, L&H president, CEO and MD. "The intellectual assets of the company will, however, not be endangered by these layoffs."

The company was also granted a "concordaat" by a Belgian court, which protects it from creditors until 30 June.

This was the second time the Belgian company had applied for the concordaat, last month a court turned the request down, saying L&H had failed to submit full audited data.

L&H has already gained bankruptcy protection in the US. It is currently undergoing a massive restructure after getting in a pickle over a $100 million shortfall at a Korean subsidiary. It is also revising two and a half years' worth of accounts due to accounting regularities, and faces an SEC probe.

Meanwhile, company founder and former co-chairman Pol Hauspie is under investigation for alleged money laundering following the appearance of 30 million Belgian francs ($710,000) in his bank account. Hauspie quit L&H at the end of last year.

L&H will put forward a plan to save remaining jobs at the company later this month. ®

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