CBS and Les Moonves reach settlement with New York Attorney General over allegations of sexual misconduct, misleading investors and insider trading

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

Attorney General Letitia James’ office announced the $30.5 million settlement. Paramount Global, now CBS’ parent company, is paying $7.25 million.

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

Investigators received text messages between an unnamed Los Angeles Police Department captain, Moonves, and another CBS executive that allegedly showed the police captain sharing confidential information related to a sexual assault complaint and “status updates on the LAPD’s investigation.” , according to James’ office.

“He assured CBS executives that he had spoken to his contacts within the LAPD and conducted checks to prevent news of the LAPD police report from leaking to the press,” the bureau wrote in its press release.

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

“As a result, CBS and Mr. Moonves will be required to pay $30.5 million, the majority of which will be returned to CBS shareholders,” the bureau said in its press release, adding that the company “also has an obligation to improve its human resources practices.” to reform sexual harassment, including reporting and training; and semi-annual reports to OAG.

The company admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement.

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

Andrew Toth/FilmMagic via Getty Images

In a statement, Paramount Global said, “We are pleased to resolve this matter relating to events of 2018 with the New York Attorney General’s Office without admission of liability or wrongdoing. The matter concerned alleged misconduct by the former CEO of CBS, who was fired from Cause in 2018 and is in no way related to the current company.”

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

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

Moonves 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 and other reports of sexual harassment and inappropriate culture at CBS and the CBS news department. The results were not made available to the public.

In 2021, ViacomCBS settled an arbitration claim filed by Moonves the company attitude the $120 million as severance pay that was withheld from Moonves after the company announced in December 2018 that he had been fired for cause.

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

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


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