A dispute between ViacomCBS and former CBS chief executive officer Les Moonves over the severance package has been mutually resolved. Moonves had to leave the company in 2018 following allegations of sexual harassment and assault. Moonves had resigned from the post of CEP and chairman of the CBS group. He was denied the severance package after a board of the company investigated allegations and concluded that Moonves had violated company policies. The CBSE board said that he not only breached his employment contract but intentionally did not cooperate with the ongoing investigation. Following the outcomes of the month-long investigation, Moonves decided to challenge the company’s decision in 2019. USD 120, which was meant as the severance package, has been held in a grantor trust since then. Now the amount will be transferred back to ViacomCBS. It must be noted that CBS was merged with Viacom in 2019.
A joint statement issued by Moonves and ViacomCBS said, “The dispute between parties – Moonves, CBS, and a contractor of CBS – has been resolved. According to people familiar with the development, law firm Covington & Burling will pay the cost of the settlement fees to Moonves. However, the amount has not been disclosed. In the joint statement, Moonves said that the settlement amount will be donated to charities. For the uninitiated, Covington & Burling and Debevoise & Plimpton were hired by the company to investigate the allegations against Moonves and find out whether he violated the terms of his employment.
After the investigation, CBS’s board of directors had said that “there are ground to terminate.” “He not only violated policies of the company and breached his employment contract but also willfully failed to cooperate with the investigation.” Moonves was accused by several women, during the span of several years, of sexual misconduct and how he used his authority to retaliate if someone resisted. However, he always denied any wrongdoing. Moonves was one of the highest-paid executives in the United States for several years. There were times when he earned more than USD 50 million in a year. He was also one of the most powerful figures in the entertainment industry for over 30 years. According to Forbes, his estimated net worth in 2015 was at USD 700 million. After the merger with Viacom, the company became ViacomCBS and is now controlled by chairman Shari Redstone.