Former speechmaker CEO arrested on fraud charges

A former CEO of troubled Belgian software vendor Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products NV (L&H), Gaston Bastiaens, was arrested on Saturday in a Boston suburb on allegations of financial fraud, stock price manipulation and other charges contained in a Belgian warrant, said Timothy Bane, chief deputy at the U.S. Marshals Service in Boston.

Six agents of the U.S. Marshals Service accompanied by one local police officer arrested Bastiaens in the backyard of his home in Winchester, Mass., Bane said. The arrest was uneventful, he added.

On Sunday, Bastiaens was being held in jail at an undisclosed location in the Boston area awaiting his initial appearance in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, after which he will face proceedings to extradite him to Belgium, Bane said.

Exactly how long those proceedings will take is unclear, said Bane. If Bastiaens decides to fight extradition to Belgium, proceedings “could drag on for some time,” he said. On the other hand, if Bastiaens decides not to fight extradition, the proceedings will be a formality, he added.

The arrest of Bastiaens is the latest twist in the L&H saga. Last month, Belgian authorities arrested the two founders of L&H, Jo Lernout and Pol Hauspie, along with former managing director Nico Wallaert, charging the three with stock price manipulation and false accounting. Belgian officials filed similar charges against Bastiaens at the same time.

Lernout & Hauspie, with dual headquarters in Ieper, Belgium, and Burlington, Mass., can be reached at