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A Belgian court, which refused to extend its protection from creditors, has declared Lernout & Hauspie bankrupt.

Ieper Commercial Court Judge Michel Handschoewerker dismissed L&H's recovery plan as "nothing more than a liquidation plan that kept the company artificially alive without restoring its fiscal health", Associated Press reports.

The court has appointed five administrators to take over management of the firm and oversee the disposal of its assets, now estimated to be worth only $20 million.

Its unclear what the effects of the Belgian court judgement will have on the bankruptcy protection L&H has been given in the US, where its second headquarters are located.

L&H's problems began with an accounting scandal that revolved around overstates sales figures for its Asian operations. This prompted government investigations in the United States and Belgium. It was once Europe's second biggest software company. ®

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