Bill Gates stepped down from Microsoft’s board of directors last year during an investigation into the billionaire’s alleged sexual relationship with a female employee, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.
Board members reportedly hired a law firm to conduct an investigation in late 2019 after a female engineer alleged in a letter that she had a sexual relationship with Gates over several years, according to the WSJ. Gates was re-elected to Microsoft’s board in Dec. 2019 although board members were reportedly concerned that his relationship with the staffer had been inappropriate.
“Microsoft 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 Microsoft spokesman told the WSJ. “A committee of the Board reviewed the concern, aided by an outside law firm to conduct a thorough investigation.”
Microsoft board members decided Bill Gates needed to step down in 2020 as they pursued an investigation into a romantic relationship with an employee. Mr. Gates’s spokeswoman says his resignation from the board was unrelated. #WSJWhatsNow pic.twitter.com/TtbgLDMqat
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) May 17, 2021
A Gates spokeswoman told the WSJ that “there was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably.” The spokeswoman also said Gates’ decision “to transition off the board was in no way related to this matter.”
Gates resigned from the board in March 2020, before the investigation was completed and the board could make a formal decision on the matter. In a press release at the time, Microsoft said the billionaire resigned to spend more time on his philanthropic efforts.
Gates announced in early May that he and his wife, Melinda Gates, were filing for divorce. The couple previously met with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in Sept. 2013, which Melinda reportedly said made her uncomfortable. Gates claimed he never had a business relationship with Epstein and none of their meetings were private. (RELATED: Why Exactly Was Bill Gates Palling Around With Jeffrey Epstein After He Was A Convicted Sex Criminal?)
Some board members asked about Gates’ dealings with Epstein prior to their investigation of Gates alleged sexual relationship, but were told those dealings were solely related to philanthropy, one person familiar with the matter told the WSJ.
The woman who Gates allegedly had a sexual relationship with reportedly asked Melinda to read her letter, though it is unclear whether she read the letter or not, according to the WSJ.