CBS and Les Moonves Reach Settlement with New York Attorney General Over Allegations of Sexual Misconduct, Deceptive Investors and Insider Trading

CBS and Leslie Moonves, the company’s former CEO and chairman, reached an agreement with the New York State Attorney General on Wednesday, ending an investigation into allegations that the company covered up allegations of sexual misconduct against Moonves, misled investors and participated in insider trading.

Attorney General Letitia James’ office announced the settlement in the amount of $30.5 million. Paramount Global, now the parent company of CBS, will pay $7.25 million.

James’ office concluded that CBS and certain senior executives were aware of multiple sexual assault allegations against Moonves and “intentionally concealed these allegations from regulators, shareholders and the public for months,” according to a press release.

Investigators obtained text messages between an anonymous Los Angeles Police Department captain, Moonves, and another CBS executive showing the police captain shared confidential information related to a sexual assault complaint and “updates on LAPD investigation,” according to James’ office.

“He assured CBS executives that he had spoken to his contacts within the LAPD and implemented controls to prevent news of the police report from being released to the press by the LAPD,” the bureau wrote. in its press release.

Investigators also concluded that an executive, Gil Schwartz, sold more than $8 million of CBS stock “weeks before the allegations became public.” The bureau said the sale constituted evidence of insider trading.

“As a result, CBS and Mr. Moonves are obligated to pay $30.5 million, the majority of which will be returned to CBS shareholders,” the office said in its press release, adding that the company “is also obligated to reform its HR practices”. around sexual harassment, including reporting and training, and provide semi-annual reports to the OAG. »

The company has not admitted any wrongdoing under the settlement.

Les Moonves
Les Moonves attends an event at Lincoln Center in New York City on February 1, 2017.

Andrew Toth/FilmMagic via Getty Images

In a statement, Paramount Global said: “We are pleased to resolve this matter regarding the events of 2018 with the New York Attorney General’s office, without any admission of liability or wrongdoing. The matter involved alleged misconduct of the former CBS CEO, who was fired for cause in 2018, and in no way relates to the current company.”

According to the press release, Moonves is to pay $2.5 million which will go to CBS shareholders. A lawyer for Moonves did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“CBS and Leslie Moonves’ attempts to silence victims, lie to the public and mislead investors can only be described as reprehensible,” James said. “As a publicly traded company, CBS failed in its most basic duty to be honest and transparent with the public and investors.”

Luneves left the company in September 2018 amid allegations of sexual assault and sexual misconduct. The company then hired two outside law firms to investigate the allegations against Moonves, as well as other reports of sexual harassment and inappropriate culture in CBS and the CBS News division. The findings have not been made public.

In 2021, ViacomCBS settled an arbitration claim filed by Moonves, with the company keeps the $120 million in compensation he withheld from Moonves after the company announced in December 2018 that he had been terminated for cause.

In addition, Moonves must obtain written approval from the New York Attorney General’s office before accepting an executive or managerial position with a public company doing business in New York for the next five years.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the amount of the settlement paid by Paramount.

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