ViacomCBS Inc. said Friday it will reclaim Les Moonves’s $120 million severance package, resolving a more than two-year dispute with the former chief executive over his termination.
Mr. Moonves resigned as chairman and CEO of CBS Corp. amid accusations of sexual harassment in September 2018. He has denied the claims.
He was denied his severance after a CBS board investigation concluded that he had violated company policies, breached his employment contract and intentionally failed to fully cooperate with the investigation.
In January 2019, Mr. Moonves challenged the company’s decision to withhold his $120 million severance package as part of the terms of his exit agreement. Under the agreement, Mr. Moonves forfeited nearly $34.5 million of his compensation package.
A lawyer for Mr. Moonves said at the time that the board’s reasons for denying the severance were without merit.
CBS merged with Viacom Inc. in December 2019. The $120 million was held in a trust while the dispute was subject to arbitration.
ViacomCBS said in a regulatory filing Friday, “The disputes between Mr. Moonves and CBS have now been resolved, and on May 14, 2021, the parties dismissed the arbitration proceeding.”
ViacomCBS and Mr. Moonves also put out a joint statement saying that Mr. Moonves was paid a settlement by an unidentified contractor, and that Mr. Moonves is donating the money to charity.
A person familiar with the matter said the contractor is law firm Covington & Burling. The firm agreed to pay Mr. Moonves an undisclosed sum after a draft of a report it prepared summarizing Mr. Moonves’s conduct was leaked to the media. A spokesman for Covington & Burling declined to comment.
Mr. Moonves was one of the most powerful figures in entertainment for more than three decades. At CBS, he was credited with turning around the network’s programming fortunes with hits such as “Survivor” and “The Big Bang Theory.”
—Benjamin Mullin contributed to this article.
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Appeared in the May 15, 2021, print edition as ‘Moonves Forfeits Severance to ViacomCBS.’