A state judge in Manhattan has declined to dismiss a suit by Viacom shareholders alleging that the company’s board of directors had paid its top three executives exorbitant compensation at the same time that the corporation was losing billions of dollars.

Justice Charles E. Ramos of the Supreme Court’s Commercial Division ruled in In re Viacom Inc. Shareholder Litigation, 602527/05, that shareholders had presented sufficient facts to support a claim of a breach of fiduciary duty against the board of directors for granting almost $160 million in annual compensation to chairman and CEO Sumner Redstone and co-presidents and chief operating officers Thomas E. Freston and Leslie Moonves.

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