Senior executives at troubled speech recognition vendor Lernout and Hauspie (L&H) sold $13m of shares after the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) told the firm it was making initial enquiries.
Three executives, Ellen Spooren, Van Coile, Florita Mendez and director Francis Vanderhoydonck, claimed that when they sold the shares last May, making $8.9m in profit, they had no knowledge of the SEC's preliminary enquiries.
L&H received an informal letter from the SEC in January 2000, a standard procedure often conducted by the SEC without the inquiry becoming upgraded to a formal investigation.
The company continues to deny that this caused suspicion among senior management and encouraged the sale of shares.
A representative for L&H said: "A trading window was opened in May, allowing senior management to exercise the right to sell or buy shares, which we hadn't done for a year or so."
Shares tumbled after financial results in August showed a surge in L&H's Asian turnover which led to the SEC beginning a formal investigation.
But the timing of the initial SEC enquiry and the selling of the shares may cause suspicion among shareholders who have lost millions since the firm's troubles began.
L&H, which had an estimated stock market valuation of $10bn last year, filed for bankruptcy protection in November in Belgium and the US, and has recently been granted an extension on this from 1 March to 1 May to hold an extraordinary general meeting.
The company has had increasing difficulties over the past three months with the resignations of John Duerden from the post of chief executive and the entire board of directors, including Roel Pieper, its chairman.
A new board will be elected and a new chairman appointed following the extraordinary shareholders meeting.
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View photos of last night's awards ceremony in London
View photos of all the winners from the 2018 Channel Awards
After a glittering awards evening in Battersea celebrating 25 years of the Awards, we are pleased to share the list of winners and judges' commended winners