May 29, 2023

Les Moonves, CBS Pays $30 Million In Settlement With NY AG Over Sexual Misconduct | CNN Business

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CNN Business

Leslie Moonves, the former CEO of CBS, and CBS reached a $30.5 million settlement Wednesday with New York Attorney General Letitia James.

The settlement is part of an investigation by the state, alleging that “CBS and its top management knew about multiple allegations of sexual assault by Mr. Moonves and concealed those allegations from regulators, shareholders and the public for months.”

“The investigation also revealed that another senior CBS executive — one of the few people who knew about the allegations — sold millions of dollars in CBS stock in the weeks before the allegations became public,” the attorney general said in a statement Wednesday. .

Moonves resigned as CEO of CBS in 2018 due to multiple sexual crime allegations. The exit marked the end of Moonves’ tenure at the top of one of the most powerful companies in the media world. Moonves denied the accusations.

The settlement with the New York attorney general calls for CBS to pay $28 million, $22 million of which will go back to CBS shareholders and $6 million to strengthen mechanisms for reporting and investigating complaints of sexual harassment and violence, the attorney general said. opinion.

Moonves himself will have to pay $2.5 million, which will also go to CBS shareholders.

A Moonves representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CBS and Viacom merged to become ViacomCBS in 2019. The merger was a merger of two companies that separated in 2006. The company then changed its name to Paramount Global earlier this year.

“We are pleased to settle this matter regarding the events of 2018 with the New York Attorney General’s Office without admitting any liability or wrongdoing,” a Paramount Global spokesperson told CNN Business. “The matters involved alleged misconduct by a former CEO of CBS, who was fired in 2018, and are in no way related to the current company.”

The attorney general said in a statement that “CBS and Leslie Moonves’ attempts to silence victims, lie to the public and mislead investors can only be condemned.”

“As a publicly traded company, CBS failed in its fundamental duty to be honest and open with the public and investors,” he added. “After trying to bury the truth to protect their fortunes, CBS and Leslie Moonves are now paying millions of dollars for their wrongdoing.”

The press release also says that Gil Schwartz, CBS’ former communications director, sold millions of dollars in stock weeks before the allegations became public. Schwartz died in 2020.

The New York AG’s office also claimed Wednesday that the investigation “revealed that a Los Angeles Police Department captain reported confidential sexual assault allegations against Mr. Moonves to CBS executives.”

This included text messages between the captain, a CBS executive and Moonves that “revealed that the LAPD captain shared confidential information and worked with CBS executives for months to prevent the complaint from being made public.”

The LAPD said Wednesday that it is “fully cooperating with the New York and California attorneys’ offices and has also launched an internal investigation into the retired commander’s conduct and to identify any other members of the organization who may have been involved.”

“What is most appalling is that a member of the LAPD has violated the trust of a victim of sexual assault, who is among the most vulnerable,” Chief Michel Moore said in a statement. “This erodes public trust and does not reflect our values ​​as an organization.”

The New York AG’s office said it “has shared all relevant information regarding this investigation with the California Attorney General’s Office.”

California’s attorney general could not immediately be reached for comment.

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