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Les Moonves will not get his $120 million severance from CBS, board says

Moonves, former CEO of CBS, agreed to depart the company in September amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
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The CBS board of directors said Monday that it will not pay former Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves the $120 million in severance that was due per his contract.

“With regard to Mr. Moonves, we have determined that there are grounds to terminate for cause, including his willful and material misfeasance, violation of Company policies and breach of his employment contract," the board said in a statement.

The board also cited what they called their former chief executive's "willful failure to cooperate fully" with an investigation of his conduct.

"Mr. Moonves will not receive any severance payment from the Company,” the statement read.

The CBS board statement released Monday also said it had investigated cultural issues at the company and "concluded that harassment and retaliation are not pervasive at CBS."

However, the board said investigators learned of past incidents of "improper and unprofessional conduct" and found that the company's policies and practices didn't reflect a high priority of preventing harassment and retaliation.

Moonves agreed to depart CBS in September amid sexual misconduct allegations but he had believed he was due a large severance package and that he had not broken the terms of his contract.

Moonves' attorney, Andrew J. Levander, said his client "vehemently denies any non-consensual sexual relations and cooperated extensively and fully with investigators." He attacked the board's decisions as "foreordained" and "without merit."

"The press was informed of these baseless conclusions before Mr. Moonves, further damaging his name, reputation, career and legacy," Levander said in a statement Monday.

Sources close to Moonves had told NBC News last week that Moonves would not give up his compensation package without a fight.

While at CBS, he was one of the most highly compensated executives at a publicly traded company, earning $69 million per year.

The CBS board is now two months into a search to replace Moonves. Currently, the person who was Moonves' number two, Joseph Ianniello, is acting CEO.

Moonves has been accused of sexual harassment or assault by 12 women. Just a few days ago, actress Cybill Shepherd said in an interview that her CBS sitcom, "Cybill," was canceled after she turned down advances from Moonves.

"My show could have run another five years, but I didn't fall on the right side of Les," she said during an interview on SiriusXM's The Michelle Collins Show that aired Dec. 12.

Moonves' downfall began in August with a report in The New Yorker that six women were accusing him of harassment and intimidation. A subsequent New Yorker story in September brought the number of accusers to 12, with dozens more saying the company tolerated sexual misconduct.