CBS ordered an extensive report on the Les Moonves allegations, but may keep its internal findings secret
- CBS Corporation's CEO and chairman, Les Moonves, resigned from the company on Sunday after a new wave of sexual harassment and assault claims.
- The company had launched an investigation into Moonves' conduct before he resigned but said it would try to avoid making the results public.
- In an SEC filing mentioning the report, it said it would strive to "preserve the confidentiality" of its report, unless compelled to do otherwise by law.
- The outcome of the investigation could determine whether Moonves gets an exit package worth more than $100 million.
CBS Corporation ordered a thorough investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment and assault against former CEO Les Moonves - but has said that it will do everything it can to keep the findings secret.
CBS mentioned the report in a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Sunday, which also dealt with what would happen to a potential $120 million payout Moonves could receive.The company has been investigating Moonves since August 1, it said, a few days after the first allegations against him were made public by The New Yorker magazine.
An annex of the filing said CBS will "seek to preserve the confidentiality of all written and oral reports by the investigators ... and all information and findings developed by the investigators."
Moonves resigned on Sunday after a second report from The New Yorker raised new allegations from six more women, including claims that Moonves exposed himself and forced them to perform oral sex on him. This brought the total number of women accusing Moonves to 12. Moonves has denied all of the allegations against him.
The SEC document gave more detail about the level of secrecy around the report, saying CBS would try "not to make public [the findings] to the maximum extent possible consistent with fiduciary duties of directors and all applicable laws."
If it is asked to make some details public, it said it would give Moonves a warning.
If the investigation finds that there was no cause for Moonves to be fired, he will be entitled to as much as $120 million in severance that has been set aside by the company, according to the filings.John Utz of law firm Utz & Lattan, which focuses on employee benefits and executive compensation law, told CBS News that the wording "maximum extent possible" means the board will seek to keep the report confidential.
He said: "Unless the board itself decides it has a fiduciary duty to do so, it won't be made public. The board has to make a decision about whether keeping it confidential might harm the company, whether with advertisers or stockholders."
CBS Corporation hired two law firms to investigate the claims and said that Moonves would not receive any severance or benefits at the moment. Any future payments to Moonves will depend on the results of the investigation, CBS said in a statement on Sunday.
CBS Corporation said it would donate $20 million to "one or more organizations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace" within 30 days of Moonves' resignation. He will help choose which ones.