Bill Gates admitted to cheating on his wife years ago with an employee of Microsoft but denied it had anything to do with his decision to abruptly leave the company’s board last year, in the latest black eye for the billionaire since the recent news of his divorce.
The board had asked Gates to step aside, but he resigned in March 2020 before an investigation was completed, The Wall Street Journal reported. In response to The Journal, Gates said he had an affair that ended “amicably” 20 years ago.
Not related to anything
Gates said that there “was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably,” and the “decision to transition off the board was in no way related to this matter.”
At the time he stepped down last March, Gates said he was leaving the boards of Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway to focus on philanthropy. But The Journal reports that Microsoft began looking into a relationship between Gates and a Microsoft engineer the company found inappropriate in late 2019.
“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,” the company said.
It continued, “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.”
Gates had been re-elected to the board just months before stepping down.
Gates embattled by scandalous news
The affair may be just one reason why Bill’s wife Melinda began pursuing a divorce in 2019.
In October of that year — around the time Microsoft was investigating Gates’s affair — a friendship between Gates and the late financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was publicized, triggering Melinda to seek a divorce, The Journal reported separately.
The New York Times reports that Epstein and Gates became friends in 2011, three years after Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution from a child, and that Gates flew on Epstein’s private jet and had meetings with him at his Manhattan mansion.
Gates “was known for making clumsy approaches to women in and out of the office” and reportedly upset his wife with how he handled a sexual harassment complaint against his money manager, according to The Times.
The couple, who have been married for 27 years, did not publicize their divorce until this May. Melinda described their marriage as “irretrievably broken” in a divorce petition.