Vince McMahon, the longtime chairman and mastermind behind World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), has been embroiled in a legal controversy over alleged hush money payments to women who accused him of sexual harassment. That controversy elevated last month as federal law enforcement agents served him with a grand jury subpoena and search warrants.
McMahon is accused of sexually misconduct with women working for him and then using company money to buy their silence. The allegations initially forced him to step away from the company while his daughter, Stephanie McMahon Levesque, took over.
On Wednesday, the company made public the latest development in McMahon’s legal battle, which saw federal agents execute “a search warrant on World Wrestling Entertainment boss Vince McMahon last month and served him with a federal grand jury subpoena,” according to CNBC.
WWE also revealed Wednesday that McMahon “went on medical leave after undergoing major spinal surgery.”
McMahon’s leave began July 21, and he will “remain on medical leave until further notice but will remain Executive Chairman” of WWE, the company said in its quarterly report to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Reached for comment Wednesday, the company said it believes the subpoena and search warrant are “a continuation of the investigation that commenced last summer. WWE has cooperated throughout and fully understands and respects the government’s need for a complete process.”
McMahon, in a separate statement, told CNBC: “I have always denied any intentional wrongdoing and continue to do so. I am confident that the government’s investigation will be resolved without any findings of wrongdoing.”
WWE is currently in the process of a merger with sports entertainment rival UFC into a new company under the control of the Endeavor Group. The deal is expected to close in the latter half of this year.
The company has taken on a lot of costs related to the investigation into McMahon. But he has agreed to pay the company back for those costs.
WWE on Wednesday said that during the three and and six months ended June 30, “the Company incurred $5.3 million and $7.1 million, respectively, of expenses related to costs incurred” in connection with a separate investigation by a special committee created by the company’s board.
McMahon has agreed to reimburse WWE for “all reasonable costs incurred in connection” with the special committee’s work, the company said.
“To date, Mr. McMahon has paid approximately $17.4 million to reimburse the Company for costs that have been incurred and paid by the Company,” the filing said.
The investigation into McMahon began around a year ago when women who had worked for WWE came forward to accuse McMahon of sexual misconduct and for paying them hush money afterward. McMahon has consistently denied any wrongdoing in the matter. However, he did step away from the company for a short time before returning, raising eyebrows among fans as to what might be going on behind the scenes.