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 securities filing today.

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

After the bank failed on 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.

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

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

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

Williams’ salary is $175,000 a month through March 12, 2009. From March 13 to November 13, he will become a part-time employee making $75,000 a month.

WaMu Inc. also appointed John A. Maciel as chief financial officer, general auditor and controller. Maciel continues to be executive vice president, additional restructuring officer, assistant secretary and assistant treasurer.

Maciel, 41, works for Alvarez & Marsal North America, a management consulting firm that WaMu Inc. pays $540 an hour.

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or