The resignation of Bill Gates from Microsoft’s board of directors in 2020, came after the board hired a law firm to investigate a romantic relationship he had with a Microsoft employee, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports.
Citing”people familiar with the matter,” WSJ reported on Sunday that a Microsoft engineer had “alleged in a letter that she had a sexual relationship over the years with Mr. Gates.”
During the probe, some board members decided it was no longer suitable for Gates to sit as a director at the software company he started and led for decades.
“Mr. Gates resigned before the board’s investigation was completed,” WSJ said.
But the employee was not named in the article
Also,a Microsoft spokesperson told CNN Business on Sunday that: “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 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,” the Microsoft spokesperson added.
In a statement to WSJ, a spokesperson for Gates said:”There was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably. Bill’s decision to transition off the board was in no way related to this matter. In fact, he had expressed an interest in spending more time on his philanthropy starting several years earlier.”
The spokesperson also pointed to a March 2020 statement regarding his decision to resign from the board.
The WSJ’s story was published after a New York Times article that reported Gates had “developed a reputation for questionable conduct in work-related settings.”
The New York Times cited “people with direct knowledge with overtures,” that “on at least a few occasions, Mr. Gates pursued women who worked for him at Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.”
However, the New York Times did not cite the names of the people involved.
Gates’ spokesperson told New York Times that: “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 spokesperson said that the “claim of mistreatment of employees is also false,” and that “the rumors and speculation surrounding Gates’ divorce are becoming increasingly absurd and it’s unfortunate that people who have little to no knowledge of the situation are being characterized as ‘sources.”
Earlier this month, Melinda Gates, Bill’s wife and co-founder of their foundation filed for divorce.
In a statement announcing their split, the couple said: “After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage.”
Bill Gates is the fourth richest person in the world. His net worth was $144 billion as of today, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index ranking