Les Moonves, CBS to pay $30.5M in settlement with N.Y. AG Tish James

CBS and its disgraced ex-CEO Les Moonves will pay $30.5 million to settle a sexual misconduct and insider trading investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Moonves, 73, will pay $2.5 million and CBS — now officially Paramount Global after a corporate restructuring — will pay the other $28 million, James announced in a Wednesday press release.

The $2.5 million from Moonves and $22 million from CBS will go to CBS shareholders because the company’s stock tanked in 2018 after numerous women said Moonves had sexually harassed them.

The remaining $6 million must be spent by CBS on “strengthening mechanisms for reporting and investigating complaints of sexual harassment and assault,” James’ office said.

“CBS and Leslie Moonves’ attempts to silence victims, lie to the public, and mislead investors can only be described as reprehensible,” the attorney general 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.”

Neither CBS nor Moonves admitted or denied wrongdoing in the settlement. Moonves, who was ousted from CBS in 2018, previously called the allegations “untrue.” But CBS successfully withheld his $120 million “golden parachute” severance package.

According to James’ investigation, a woman filed a report in 2017 with the Los Angeles Police Department describing an assault by Moonves. An LAPD captain then alerted CBS executives and Moonves himself, and they all tried to prevent the public from learning about the police report, according to investigators.

During the cover-up, CBS executive Gil Schwartz, who knew about the allegations against Moonves, sold $8.8 million worth of CBS stock, investigators said. Schwartz died in May 2020.

Despite the attempts by CBS, Moonves and Los Angeles police to cover up the allegations, they were publicized in a bombshell New Yorker report in July 2018. The day after that report, CBS’ stock dropped more than 10%.

“After trying to bury the truth to protect their fortunes, today CBS and Leslie Moonves are paying millions of dollars for their wrongdoing,” James said.