Bankrupt holding company Washington Mutual Inc. is hiring 15 to 20 full-time employees "in the near term," even as the bank it used to own is preparing to lay off thousands.

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While Washington Mutual Bank’s new owner hands out pink slips, the defunct institution’s parent company is hiring.

Washington Mutual Inc. needs 15 to 20 full-time employees “in the near term,” according to a bankruptcy court document filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

The parent is in bankruptcy court in Delaware, where bondholders and others are wrangling over its remaining assets. In an early filing, it said it had about $8 billion in debt and $32 billion in assets.

After the bank failed Sept. 25 and its assets were sold to JPMorgan Chase, only interim chief legal officer Stewart Landefeld remained at the parent company. He left that position earlier this month, but others are being hired.

One is Robert J. Williams Jr., who on Nov. 13 was appointed president of Washington Mutual Inc.

Williams, 49, had been senior vice president and corporate treasurer of Washington Mutual Bank since February 2005.

His salary is $175,000 a month through next March 12. He’ll then become a part-time employee until next November, making $75,000 a month.

Though company officials could not be reached for comment, presumably the new employees are needed to cope with the blizzard of paperwork involved in sorting out claims and assets in the complex bankruptcy.

By mid-December, the filing indicates, WaMu Inc.’s payroll and benefit expenses will jump from $280,000 to $540,000 a month.

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or