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Moonves pursuing arbitration to recover $120M in severance from CBS

Former CBS Corp. Chairman and CEO Les Moonves is pursuing binding arbitration as a means to gain the $120 million severance he was recently denied when the programmer's board of directors determined he was fired for cause.

"On Jan. 16, 2019, Mr. Moonves notified the Company of his election to demand binding arbitration with respect to this matter," CBS said a Jan. 17 SEC filing. "The Company does not intend to comment further on this matter during the pendency of the arbitration proceedings."

A spokesman for Moonves also declined to comment on the matter.

Moonves, the company's longtime leader under whose guidance CBS (US) became the most watched broadcast network over the past decade, resigned in September 2018 in the wake of an article in The New Yorker detailing allegations that he sexually assaulted and threatened several women. The piece also described a culture at CBS News that tolerated abusive behavior toward women.

CBS had set aside $120 million in possible severance compensation for Moonves, contingent upon the results of an investigation into the alleged sexual misconduct. In December 2018, the board said it found evidence of "willful and material misfeasance" on the part of Moonves, as well as violations of company policies.

"The investigators learned of past incidents of improper and unprofessional conduct, and concluded that the Company's historical policies, practices and structures have not reflected a high institutional priority on preventing harassment and retaliation," the board said at the time. It also noted that the investigators ultimately concluded that harassment and retaliation are not pervasive at CBS.

Moonves has previously denied the allegations, saying he "may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances," but never used his position to harm anyone's career.