Scrutiny increases of Bill Gates after details about an affair surfaces

Tuesday, 18 May 2021 - 6:26

Microsoft Corp. conducted an investigation into co-founder Bill Gates's involvement with an employee almost two decades ago after it was informed in 2019 of his attempt to start a romantic relationship with that person.

Bill Gates's tenure at Microsoft has come under fresh scrutiny amid revelations that the tech giant probed the billionaire founder's intimate relationship with a staffer before he left the board of directors.

The latest news, days after Gates and his wife Melinda announced their divorce, could have major repercussions for the tech founder who has cultivated an image as one of the world's most dedicated philanthropists.

The board reviewed the matter and held a "thorough investigation" with the help of an external law firm, the software giant said. It didn't reach a conclusion to the probe because Gates had stepped down before it was completed, Microsoft said.

"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," Microsoft said in a statement. "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."

Recent reports suggested a streak of questionable behavior by the 65-year-old Gates, one of the most prominent members of the US business elite who has been the target of conspiracy theorists over his funding of the development of Covid-19 vaccines.

Melinda Gates response?
The New York Times reported that Melinda Gates expressed dismay over her husband's meetings with Epstein but that Gates continued to meet him.

The Times reported Melinda Gates was also upset over a private settlement of a sexual harassment claim against her husband's financial manager, and about Gates's advancements toward other Microsoft employees.

The focus on Gates comes amid heightened scrutiny of sexual harassment and misconduct in the tech sector and the #MeToo movement which has already led to the downfall of a number of powerful men.

'The Affair'
Microsoft confirmed reports over the weekend that its board began an investigation with an outside law firm of an affair with an employee

A spokeswoman for Gates said his decision to leave the board has nothing to do with the romantic involvement with an employee.

"There was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably," she said, adding that his "decision to transition off the board was in no way related to this matter."

The belated investigation into the affair came at a time that was marked by a groundswell of discussion at Microsoft about the treatment of women and Me-Too conversations in the broader industry.

Gates and Melinda French Gates announced their divorce earlier this month after 27 years of marriage. Several reports, including those that emerged over the weekend, said she had raised concerns over his dealings with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Do the reports suggest sexual misconduct by Bill Gates?
While none of the reports have suggested sexual misconduct by Gates himself, his actions and associations have nonetheless tarnished the image of a man long respected and admired.

Dow Jones earlier reported that Microsoft's directors found Gates' involvement with the female employee to be inappropriate and decided last year that he had to step down from the board, citing people familiar with the matter who weren't identified.