It is "an adventure almost 20 years ago that ended amicably," a spokeswoman for the US magnate told The Wall Street Journal.
Bill Gates left Microsoft's board of directors in 2020 while an investigation was being conducted into the billionaire's romantic relationship with a company employee, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
The founder and former boss of the American tech giant stepped down as chairman of the board of directors in March 2020.
"Members of the Microsoft Corp. board of directors decided that Bill Gates had to step down in 2020 while they investigated a billionaire's romantic relationship with a Microsoft employee that was deemed inappropriate," the newspaper reported, citing people close to the matter.
It is "an affair nearly 20 years ago that ended amicably," a Gates spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal.
According to the spokeswoman, Gates left Microsoft to focus more on his philanthropic organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Gates and his wife Melinda, who co-founded their charity two decades ago to fight poverty and disease worldwide, announced their divorce on May 3 after 27 years of marriage.
A Microsoft spokesman told AFP that the company had been alerted in the second half of 2019 that Bill Gates had tried to establish a close relationship with a company employee in 2000. A committee of board of directors reviewed the case with the help of foreign law. Firm, to do a full investigation.
The employee, an engineer, claimed in a letter that she had been romantically involved with Gates for years, according to The Wall Street Journal.
According to the newspaper, some members of the board of directors also questioned the relationship between Gates and financier Jeffrey Epstein. He committed suicide in prison in 2019, awaiting trial for alleged trafficking in minors.
Gates' team assured the board that the Microsoft founder had met with Epstein for "benevolent reasons" and, according to the newspaper, "regretted doing so."
However, the Microsoft founder had a close relationship with Epstein. According to the New York Times, the moguls had numerous encounters since 2011. Boris Nikolic, an advisor to Bill Gates, was involved in executing the New York financier's will. And Melanie Walker, who works at the Gate Foundation, advised Epstein on science.
In 2011, Gates attended a party at Epstein's Manhattan mansion, the New York Times revealed. And in 2013, the Microsoft founder flew in the New York tycoon's private plane from New Jersey to Palm Beach, Florida. The two may have met again in New York City later that year.
I ran towards him. Gates said in September 2019 that he had no business or friendship with him. There were people around him, 'Hey, if you want to raise money for global health and get more philanthropy, he (Epstein) knows a lot of rich people.'
He was with him in every meeting; there were other people too. I have never been to a party or anything like that. "He never paid for anything I knew about," Gates said.
In addition to that romantic relationship, they investigate Gates' inability to stop inappropriate acts among his employees. The American mogul did little to resolve a sexual harassment case involving his accountant. Gates decided to resolve the matter confidentially, but his ex-wife insisted on a thorough external investigation. Nonetheless, Michael Larson, one of the Microsoft founder's most trusted men, remained in his position, The New York Times reported.
Gates, who founded Microsoft in 1975, resigned as CEO of the company in 2000, claiming he wanted to focus on his founding.
In 2008He quit his full-time position at Microsoft. His position as chairman of the board of directors was the last position that officially linked him to the company.