ViacomCBS keeps $120 million after arbitration with former CEO Les Moonves

ViacomCBS disclosed Friday that it had settled a long-running dispute with former CEO Les Moonves, and says that it will keep $120 million in severance that it withheld from Moonves when his employment was terminated in 2018. 

“The disputes between Mr. Moonves and CBS have now been resolved, and on May 14, 2021, the parties dismissed the arbitration proceeding. The assets of the grantor trust will revert to the Company in their entirety,” the company said in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission.  

Moonves’ employment was terminated on September 9, 2018 following multiple allegations of  sexual assault or misconduct. Moonves denied the claims. On December 17, the board released a statement that said Moonves had breached his employment contract and would not receive a severance package valued at $120 million following the completion of a months-long investigation.  

“We have determined that there are grounds to terminate for cause, including his willful and material misfeasance, violation of Company policies and breach of his employment contract, as well as his willful failure to cooperate fully with the Company’s investigation,” the board said at the time.

Moonves demanded binding arbitration in January 2019 and the money was placed in a trust.

In a joint statement Friday, CBS and Moonves said, “Leslie Moonves, CBS and a contractor to CBS have resolved their disputes. The cost of the settlement will be borne by the contractor. Mr. Moonves has decided to contribute the entire settlement amount to various charities. There will be no further comment regarding this settlement by Mr. Moonves or CBS.”

Representatives for ViacomCBS and Moonves did not provide additional details regarding the settlement with the contractor. 

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