Insider trading lawsuit filed by CBS shareholders

WASHINGTON • Current and former executives of broadcaster CBS sold shares in the company before sexual harassment allegations against then-chief executive officer Leslie Moonves became public, according to a lawsuit filed in New York.

The suit was presented on Monday by shareholders who are asking a judge to give them class action status, reported The Wall Street Journal. Named in the lawsuit are Mr Moonves, who resigned in September, acting CEO Joe Ianniello, chief accounting officer Lawrence Liding and former communications chief Gil Schwartz.

The suit alleges that the four men sold more than 3.4 million shares worth over US$200 million (S$271 million) before CBS announced in July that it would investigate Mr Moonves for alleged sexual harassment.

The complaint was filed by the Construction Labourers Pension Trust for Southern California. It argued that the timing and amount of the sales "were unusual and suspicious".

The insider trading lawsuit says Mr Moonves sold stock valued at US$155.3 million between June 2017 and May last year, and during this period CBS knew of media inquiries about sexual harassment claims against him. The Journal said CBS and Mr Moonves deny these allegations.

The suit seeks compensatory damages, on grounds that the value of CBS stock was inflated.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2019, with the headline 'Insider trading lawsuit filed by CBS shareholders'. Print Edition | Subscribe