Les Moonves stands to collect up to $120 million if the independent investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct fails to turn up information that would give the directors reason to fire him.
But the findings of the investigation will also be kept private, according to new details of his separation agreement filed this morning with the SEC.
If the law firms probing the allegations do find evidence of misconduct, Moonves walks away with nothing. The CBS board of directors will make a determination about whether the media company has grounds to terminate its former CEO within 30 days of investigators issuing their final report.
In the severance agreement filed to the SEC, a clause regarding confidentiality appears as an amendment deep in the document. “Employer shall seek to preserve the confidentiality of all written and oral reports by the investigators in the Internal Investigation and all information and findings developed by the investigators or included in such written or oral reports in relation to Executive (the ‘Investigator Information’) and not to make public such Investigator Information to the maximum extent possible consistent with fiduciary duties of directors and all applicable laws,” the amendment says. “In the event that any request or demand is made or any order issued for disclosure of any Investigator Information, Employer shall promptly notify Executive to the extent permitted.”
Moonves has the right to request binding arbitration over the terms of his separation. Even as a dozen women came forward with accounts of unwanted sexual aggression, Moonves issued a statement last night asserting his innocence.
“Untrue allegations from decades ago are now being made against me that are not consistent with who I am,” Moonves said in a statement released last night.
If Moonves is cleared in the investigation, he would receive the severance package and serve as an advisor for one year after his resignation, to ensure a smooth transition. He’ll also receive an office and security for up to two years.
The total amount of the severance package is $140 million. CBS has already deducted $20 million for contributions he and the media company will make to charitable organizations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace.
Moonves resigned yesterday, ending his 24-year run at the company as one of media’s most imposing chief executives. The end had been predicted for days, but negotiations took on a new urgency and intensity after The New Yorker published a follow-on report by Ronan Farrow detailing new allegations by six women spanning the 1980s to the 2000s. These fresh accounts of sexual misconduct include claims that Moonves forced women to perform oral sex on him and that he exposed himself to them without their consent.
The executive’s departure leaves a complicated legacy for the 68-year-old Moonves, who was once regarded as a creative leader with few peers.