CBS, ex-chief Les Moonves to pay $30.5 million for insider trading

CBS, ex-chief Les Moonves to pay $30.5 million for insider trading

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Wednesday that CBS Corp. and its former CEO, Leslie “Les” Moonves, have agreed to pay a total of $30.5 million over claims of insider trading, misleading investors, and allegedly attempting to conceal sexual assault allegations against Mr. Moonves.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) said in a press release that its investigation found CBS senior leadership was aware of the sexual assault allegations made against Moonves but intentionally hid the allegations for months before they became public.

NY Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference at the office of the Attorney General on September 21, 2022 in New York, New York. James’ office announced Wednesday it secured more than $30 million from CBS and former CEO Les Moonv (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images/Getty Images)

The OAG said it obtained text messages between a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) captain, Moonves, and another CBS executive showing the captain “shared confidential information and worked with CBS executives” to keep the claims quiet.

James’ office also said the investigation found another senior CBS executive unloaded millions of dollars of CBS stock in the weeks leading up to the allegations against Moonves coming to light.

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Under the agreement reached with the OAG, CBS will pay $28 million, and Moonves will pay $2.5 million. The OAG said CBS shareholders will receive $24.5 million of that in the settlement, and $6 million will be directed to bolstering “mechanisms for reporting and investigating complaints of sexual harassment and assault.”

viacom cbs

ViacomCBS headquarters is pictured in New York, New York, US December 5, 2019. (REUTERS/Kate Munsch/File Photo/Reuters Photos)

“CBS and Leslie Moonves’ attempts to silence victims, lie to the public, and mislead investors can only be described as reprehensible,” James said in a statement. “As a publicly traded company, CBS failed its most basic duty to be honest and transparent with the public and investors. After trying to bury the truth to protect their fortunes, today CBS and Leslie Moonves are paying millions of dollars for their wrongdoing.”

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Moonves resigned from CBS in 2018 after sexual misconduct allegations against him by multiple women were published in articles by The New Yorker and The New York Times.

Investors claim CBS shares tumbled roughly 10% in the aftermath.

Les Moonves CBS

Leslie “Les” Moonves, then-president and chief executive officer of CBS Corp., listens during a Bloomberg Television interview in New York, US, on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (Photographer: Chris Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Moonves was denied his $120 million severance by the CBS Board of Directors, which determined at the time “that there are grounds to terminate for cause, including his willful and material misfeasance, violation of Company policies and breach of his employment contract, as well as his willful failure to cooperate fully with the Company’s investigation.”

The following year, CBS merged with sister company Viacom Inc. to become ViacomCBS, and changed its name to Paramount Global in February of 2022.

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Moonves has previously denied any wrongdoing, and described his sexual encounters as consensual.

FOX News’ Nicole Darrah and Reuters contributed to this report.

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