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CBS and former CEO Les Moonves to pay $30.5m over claims they hid sexual assault allegations

CBS and former CEO Les Moonves to pay $30.5m over claims they hid sexual assault allegations

CBS and former CEO Les Moonves are set to pay $30.5m to resolve claims they hid sexual assault allegations against the executive and for alleged insider trading.

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that an investigation by her office had found that the media company and its senior leadership knew about multiple allegations made against Mr Moonves.

And Ms James said in a statement on Wednesday that they had “intentionally concealed those allegations from regulators, shareholders, and the public for months.”

Investigators also discovered that a senior executive at CBS, former Chief Communications Officer, Gil Schwartz, sold millions of dollars worth of CBS stock just weeks before the claims became public.

Ms James’s office said that they had found out that a captain at the Los Angeles Police Department had told CBS executives of a confidential sexual assault complaint against Mr Moonves, and secretly provided them information throughout as they attempted to manage it.

According to NBC 4 Los Angeles, court documents show that the captain, Cmdr. Cory Palka, shared confidential information about Moonves and divulged the goings on within the investigation with CBS.

Per the settlement, Palka knew Mooves personally and had served as his security guard at the Grammy Awards between 2008 and 2014.

In a statement to NBC 4 Los Angeles, the LAPD said they have initiated an internal investigation.

“What is most appalling is the alleged breach of trust of a victim of sexual assault, who is among the most vulnerable, by a member of the LAPD,” Chief Michel Moore said in a statement. “This erodes the public trust and is not reflective of our values as an organization.”

Mr Moonves, the top executive at CBS since 2006, resigned in September 2018 when the allegations became public.

Six women told the New Yorker magazine of incidents of assault and harassment by Mr Moonves that allegedly took place between the 1980s and early 2000s.

In his resignation statement, Mr Moonves called them “Untrue allegations from decades ago are now being made against me that are not consistent with who I am.”

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

Mr Moonves must pay $2.5m back to CBS shareholders, while CBS must pay $28m. Of the CBS money, $22m will go to shareholders and $6m will be used to improve the company’s mechanisms for reporting sexual harassment and assault.

And he may not serve as an officer or director of any public company 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 failed its most basic duty to be honest and transparent with the public and investors,” said Ms James.

“After trying to bury the truth to protect their fortunes, 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 off injustice will not be tolerated and those who violate the law will be held accountable.”