Leslie ‘Les’ Moonves, president and chief executive officer of CBS Corp.
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Paramount Global and former CBS chief Les Moonves agreed to make additional payments to settle an investigation by the New York State Attorney General’s office, which disclosed further allegations involving the Los Angeles Police Department’s role in the matter on Wednesday.
The investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James found that a commanding officer with the LAPD had tipped off the former CBS chief executive and other executives in 2018 about sexual assault allegations before they were made public.
According to a filing from James’ office, the LAPD officer left this voice message for CBS executive Ian Metrose: “I know we haven’t talked in a while. I am a captain at LAPD Hollywood. Somebody walked in the station about a couple hours ago and made allegations against your boss regarding a sexual assault. It’s confidential, as you know, but call me, and I can give you some of the details and let you know what the allegation is before it goes to the media or gets out. So all right talk to you after a while. Bye.”
The findings also allege one of the senior executives sold millions of dollars’ worth of shares based off of the information and before they went public. James said CBS allowed the executive, Gil Schwartz, to sell over 160,000 shares, or more than $8 million worth, six weeks before an article about the allegations against Moonves was published. Schwartz, who wrote books under the pen name Stanley Bing, including “Crazy Bosses: Spotting Them, Serving Them, Surviving Them,” died in 2020.
James said she referred the matter to the California Attorney General’s office. A representative for the LAPD declined to comment. CNBC has reached out to Moonves’ representatives and Metrose, who still works at the company. Paramount declined to comment further on him.
“We are pleased to resolve this matter concerning events from 2018 with the New York Attorney General’s office, without any admission of liability or wrongdoing,” a Paramount spokesperson said Wednesday. “The matter involved alleged misconduct by CBS’s former CEO, who was terminated for cause in 2018, and does not relate in any way to the current company.”
CBS and Viacom merged in 2019, later changing the company’s name to Paramount Global.
The investigation found text messages between the LAPD captain, top-ranking CBS executives and Moonves that revealed the allegations. The captain also worked with executives for several months to prevent the complaint from becoming public, according to the attorney general’s release on Wednesday.
Moonves left CBS in 2018 after allegations of sexual misconduct and cultural problems in the company. Following his exit, the board hired two law firms to investigate the allegations, finding there were ground to fire the executive for cause. Moonves has previously denied the accusations.
As part of filings related to Paramount’s third quarter earnings on Wednesday, the company reported it agreed to pay $7.25 million to shareholders, while Moonves will pay $2.5 million. This is in addition to the $14.25 million earlier paid by Paramount in the settlement.
“CBS and Leslie Moonves’ attempts to silence victims, lie to the public, and mislead investors can only be described as reprehensible,” James said in the Wednesday release. “As a publicly traded company, CBS failed its most basic duty to be honest and transparent with the public and investors.”
The settlement also bars Moonves from serving as an officer or director of a company that does business in New York without first gaining approval from they attorney general’s office.
Paramount said in public filings Wednesday that the company reached a deal with the Investor Protection Bureau of the New York attorney general’s office without admitting wrongdoing or liability.