The board of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. WWE, +4.95% is investigating a secret $3 million settlement that longtime chief executive Vince McMahon agreed to pay to a departing employee with whom he allegedly had an affair, according to documents and people familiar with the board inquiry.
The January 2022 separation agreement bars the now-former employee, who was hired as a paralegal in 2019, from discussing her relationship with McMahon or disparaging him, the people said.
The board’s investigation, which began in April, has unearthed other, older nondisclosure agreements involving claims by former female WWE employees of misconduct by McMahon and one of his top executives, John Laurinaitis, the head of talent relations at WWE, the people said. The Journal couldn’t determine how many previous agreements were being scrutinized.
The board’s outside counsel was still collecting information about the other NDAs this week but has determined that the payments totaled in the millions of dollars, the people said.
The board’s eight independent directors have retained New York-based law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP to conduct the investigation, one of the people said. The board’s preliminary findings are that McMahon used personal funds to pay the former female employees who signed the agreements, including the one involving allegations against Laurinaitis, this person said.
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