L&H Chief Steps Down

Computer speech and language systems maker Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products Inc. (L&H) Friday announced that Gaston Bastiaens, the company's president and chief executive officer, has stepped down.

Bastiaens, who has been the CEO for four years, will be replaced by John Duerden, the President and CEO of L&H's Health Care Solutions Group. Bastiaens will remain on as a board member.

The move comes just over two weeks after the Wall Street Journal questioned L&H's figures regarding its Korean operations. The newspaper claimed that three Korean companies identified as L&H customers were not customers at all, and that other sales figures in the country had been inflated by the company. L&H refuted the claims made by the paper and last week said that it had hired KPMG Consulting LLC to perform a midterm audit on the company and its Korean operations. [See "L&H To Commission Audit, Verify Korean Business," Aug. 14.]In response to the allegations made in the paper, several separate groups of L&H shareholders filed suit against the company and its CEO, claiming that they were given misleading information regarding operations in Korea.

According to a spokeswoman for L&H, Bastiaens' departure has "absolutely nothing" to do with the controversy. The spokeswoman would not comment on any of the lawsuits filed against the company.

Lernout & Hauspie, with dual headquarters in Ieper, Belgium and Burlington, Massachusetts, can be reached at +32-57-228-888 or at http://www.lhsl.com/.

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