Bill Gates questioned over a staff relationship before stepping down from the board of Microsoft, says report.
Board members at Microsoft Corp. had to come to a decision, late 2020, that it wasn’t suitable for its co-founder Bill Gates to continue sitting on its board as they questioned the billionaire’s prior romantic relationship with a female Microsoft employee that was deemed inappropriate, reports in The Wall Street Journal.
Without naming anyone, on Sunday The WS Journal stated online that the board members were looking into the matter and hired a law firm in late 2019 to conduct a thorough investigation after a Microsoft engineer claimed in a letter that she had a sexual relationship with Gates over the years.
The online publication also reported that Gates had resigned before the board’s investigation came to an end.
An unnamed spokeswoman for Gates acknowledged to The WSJ that there was, in fact, an affair but that was almost 20 years ago, and that it ended “with no harsh feelings.” The spokesperson also stated that “his decision to transition off the board was in no way related to this matter.”
Mr. Gates’ decision to leave Microsoft’s board last year was to focus on philanthropy.
In an email sent to The Associated Press late Sunday, Microsoft said that it “received a concern in the latter half of 2019 that Bill Gates sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000. A committee of the Board reviewed the concern, aided by an outside law firm, to conduct a thorough investigation. Throughout the investigation, Microsoft provided extensive support to the employee who raised the concern.”
Earlier this month, Bill and Melinda Gates announced that they were divorcing after 27 years of marriage but would keep working together at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Another report, in The New York Times on Sunday, went into details of how Gates apparently “pursued” several women, almost all linked to Microsoft and the Gates foundation, developing “a reputation for questionable conduct in work-related settings,” the paper reported.
But, according to the Times, it was Gates’ friendship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein — whom Gates allegedly stayed close to even after Epstein was convicted for soliciting sex with girls as young as 14 — that upset Melinda Gates, reportedly setting in motion the divorce process.
That sequence of events is disputed by a Gates spokesperson.
“It is extremely disappointing that there have been so many untruths published about the cause, the circumstances and the timeline of Bill Gates’ divorce,” the Gates spokesperson told NPR.
The Times reported that on some occasions, Gates approached women who worked for him at Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in aims to establish relationships of sorts.