The Journal reported on Sunday that the Microsoft board became aware in late 2019, of a letter from a Microsoft engineer who said she had been in a sexual relationship with Bill Gates in the previous years. Microsoft board members hired a law firm to investigate the allegations made by the female engineer and concluded that the relationship was inappropriate.
By early 2020 “some board members decided it was no longer suitable for Bill Gates to sit as a director at the software company he started and led for decades,” the Journal reports. Bill Gates admitted the affair with the employee but denies he was forced off Microsoft’s board over it.
“Mr. Gates resigned before the board’s investigation was completed and before the full board could make a formal decision on the matter.” Three months before his resignation in March of 2020, he was re-elected to the board in December 2019.
“There was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably,” Bridgitt Arnold, a spokeswoman for Bill Gates, said in a statement. “Gates’ 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.”
In a report published by Times, Melinda Gates had also been upset over the sexual harassment settlement that her husband facilitated for their longtime financial adviser.
“In some circles, Bill Gates had also developed a reputation for questionable conduct in work-related settings,” and on at least a few occasions he had “pursued women who worked for him at Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.”
“It is not clear how much Ms. French Gates knew about her husband’s behavior or to what degree it contributed to their split,” the Times reports.
“It is extremely disappointing that there have been so many untruths published about the cause, the circumstances, and the timeline of Bill Gates’ divorce,” said Arnold, spokeswoman for Bill Gates. “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,” she added.