CBS Corp. said it had set aside $120 million as a potential severance payment for former CEO Leslie Moonves, pending the results of an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct that have been leveled against the company’s longtime chief.
But the results of those investigations will not be released publicly under the terms of the settlement agreement between Moonves and CBS that calls for both sides to not make disparaging comments about each other. That provision is sure to be challenged by lawyers and other activists as bad form for a company trying to recover from scandal.
In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, CBS said it would place the sum of $120 million into a “grantor trust” that would be paid to Moonves “in the event that the Board determines that the Company is not entitled to terminate Mr. Moonves’s employment for cause, or in the event of a final determination in arbitration that the Company is not entitled to terminate Mr. Moonves’s employment for cause.” Mooves left his job as chairman and CEO of CBS Corp. last night in the wake of multiple allegations from women made in two articles published by The New Yorker accusing him of a series of incidents of sexual misconduct. In a statement Sunday, Moonves said he was “deeply saddened’ to depart and noted “Untrue allegations from decades ago are now being made against me that are not consistent with who I am.”
Should CBS find reason to terminate Moonves for cause, the company said, the funds “will be distributed to the Company and the Company will have no further obligations to Mr. Moonves.”
An additional $20 million that would have been earmarked for Moonves’ severance is instead slated to be distributed to ” one or more charitable organizations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace,” the filing said. Those groups have been designated by Moonves in consultation with CBS.
There is a chance Moonves could continue to work for and be paid by CBS aside from matters of severance. According to the filing, Moonves has agreed to provide “transition advisory services” to CBS for one year following his resignation – or until the board determines it’s entitled to terminate him for cause. As part of that agreement, CBS would “provide Mr. Moonves with office services and security services for up to two years following his resignation,” the filing said.
Under the settlement, the two sides agreed that the internal investigation report and its findings will remain confidential.
Moonves has long been one of the highest-paid CEOs in the U.S., let alone the media industry. He earned $69.3 million in 2017, according to past SEC filings made by CBS, a slight decline from his 2016 haul of $69.6 million.
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