CBS and former CEO Les Moonves are set to pay $30.5 million to settle allegations they covered up sexual assault allegations against the executive and alleged insider trading.
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that an investigation by her office found that the media company and its senior leadership were aware of multiple complaints against Mr. Moonves.
And Ms James said in a statement on Wednesday that they had “deliberately concealed these allegations from regulators, shareholders and the public for months”.
Investigators also discovered that a senior CBS executive, former Chief Communications Officer Gil Schwartz, sold millions of dollars worth of CBS stock just weeks before the claims became public.
Ms. James’ office said they discovered that a captain in the Los Angeles Police Department had told CBS executives about a confidential sexual-assault complaint against Mr. Moonves and secretly provided them with information as they tried to handle it.
Mr. Moonves, CBS’ top executive since 2006, resigned in September 2018 when the allegations became public.
Six women told the New Yorker journal of incidents of assault and harassment by Mr Moonves that took place between the 1980s and early 2000s;
In his resignation statement, Mr Moonves called them “False allegations from decades ago are now being made against me that are inconsistent with who I am”.
“CBS and Leslie Moonves’ efforts to silence victims, lie to the public and mislead investors can only be called reprehensible,” Ms. James said.
Mr. Moonves must return $2.5 million to CBS shareholders, while CBS must pay $28 million. Of the CBS money, $22 million will go to shareholders and $6 million will be used to improve the company’s mechanisms for reporting sexual harassment and assault.
And he cannot serve as an officer or director of any public corporation doing business in New York for the next five years without the written approval of the Attorney General’s office.
“As a publicly traded company, CBS has failed in its basic duty to be honest and transparent with the public and investors,” Ms James said.
“After attempting to bury the truth to protect their assets, today CBS and Leslie Moonves are paying millions of dollars for their wrongdoing. Today’s action should send a strong message to companies across New York that profiting from injustice will not be tolerated and those who break the law will be held accountable.”