Former CBS CEO Les Moonves drops prosecution for a $ 120 million settlement

Les Moonves, CEO of CBS

Mike Blake | Reuters

Former CBS CEO Les Moonves, who left the media company in 2018 for sexual harassment and assault, has dropped an attempt to claim a $ 120 million settlement.

The money that was held in a grantor trust will go back to what is now ViacomCBS after merging with Viacom in 2019.

“The dispute between Mr. Moonves and CBS has now been resolved, and on May 14, 2021 the parties dismissed the arbitration,” ViacomCBS said in a corporate filing published on Friday.

Covington & Burling law firm is paying Moonves a settlement fee, according to two people familiar with the matter. The board of directors of CBS hired Covington & Burling, together with Debevoise & Plimpton, to conduct an investigation into whether Moonves had violated the terms of his employment. The New York Times reviewed and reported on a leaked internal document prepared by attorneys in December 2018.

A Covington & Burling spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for Debevoise & Plimpton said: “Debevoise is not a party to any agreements with parties relating to its work for CBS and no one associated with the company has leaked confidential information relating to our work for CBS.”

“Leslie Moonves, CBS and a contractor from CBS have settled their disputes,” said Moonves and ViacomCBS in a joint statement. “The cost of the settlement will be borne by the contractor. Mr. Moonves has decided to allocate the entire settlement amount to various charities. There will be no further comments on this settlement from Mr. Moonves or CBS.”

Moonves filed for arbitration in January 2019 to claim the money after the CBS board of directors found Moonves violated company policies and was therefore fired on important cause. The CBS board of directors discovered in December 2018 that Moonves had breached its contract and deliberately failed to cooperate with an internal investigation.

“With respect to Mr. Moonves, we have determined that there are reasons to resign for good cause, including his willful and material misconduct, breach of Company policies and his employment contract, and willful failure to cooperate fully with the Company’s investigation “said the board of directors of CBS in a statement at the time. “Mr. Moonves is not receiving any severance payments from the company.”

Moonves left CBS in September 2018 after a series of allegations by women spanning several decades describing how Moonves coerced sexual acts and used his professional power to seek revenge when they resisted.

Moonves was one of the highest paid CEOs in the US for many years, sometimes making more than $ 50 million a year. In 2015, Forbes estimated his net worth at $ 700 million.

The company is now controlled by Shari Redstone, chairman of ViacomCBS.

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