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Directors of secretive anti-virus vendor Avecho Group Ltd put the firm into administration on 2 December, barely three years since the business was founded.

The Essex-based firm had caused a stir by claiming its email virus-checking system was 100 per cent proof. But its methods where a closely guarded secret.

A spokesperson for Stephen Cork, the official administrator of Avecho at Smith & Williamson, confirmed that the security software vendor had gone into administration on 2 December.

The directors filed their administration report with Companies House on 8 December. It is expected to be published this week.

Bob Tarzey of Quocirca, one of few industry analysts who took an interest in Avecho, believed its secrecy might have had something to do with its demise.

"People don't like magic. They want to know how it works. If [someone] says, 'trust me, I'm a salesman,' then you don't trust them," said Tarzey.

Reports have suggested Avecho has no patents for its technology and used this to explain the firm's secrecy.

Avecho's founders have also claimed (in 2003) that though they have patents, they do not have the resources to defend their intellectual property in court.

Yet a former strategic advisor to the firm said that as late as December last year it was still official policy not to file for patents because it did not have the money to defend them. It had been reviewing the policy, however, as its financial fortunes were allegedly looking up.

People claiming to be Avecho employees believe there are intellectual assets that can be sold by the administrators.

On Friday they issued a statement in the hope of drawing the attention of any potential buyers. They remained anonymous because they were "frightened".

"[We] still have claims against Avecho for unpaid salaries, notice pay, expenses and so on. We must therefore declare a vested interest in seeing the best value achieved for Avecho in administration, so that these and many trade debts can be paid off," they said.

A former spokesperson for Avecho claimed it had over 500 SME customers who bought its software as a managed service. As of Friday the service appeared to be uninterrupted.®

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