According to new Wall Street Journal reporting, Bill Gates resigned from Microsoft’s board of directors in 2020 after the board hired a law firm to investigate a romantic relationship he had with a Microsoft employee.
The Journal reported on Sunday, citing “people familiar with the matter,” that a Microsoft engineer “alleged in a letter that she had a sexual relationship with Mr. Gates for years.”
“During the probe, some board members decided it was no longer suitable for Mr. Gates to sit as a director at the software company he started and led for decades,” the Journal reported. “Mr. Gates resigned before the board’s investigation was completed.”
The employee was not named in the Journal’s article. CNN has not confirmed the allegations cited by the Journal.
“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 Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to CNN Business late Sunday. “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.”
In a statement to the Journal, 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 referred to a statement issued in March 2020 regarding his decision to resign from the board.
The WSJ story followed a separate New York Times report that Gates had “developed a reputation for questionable conduct in work-related settings.”
According to the New York Times, “on at least a few occasions, Mr. Gates pursued women who worked for him at Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,” citing “people with direct knowledge with overtures.”
The names of those involved were not mentioned in the Times.
According to Gates’ spokesperson, “it is extremely disappointing that so many untruths have been published about the cause, circumstances, and 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.'”
CNN has not confirmed the allegations made public by the New York Times. A request for comment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was not immediately returned Sunday night.
Melinda Gates, Bill Gates’ wife and co-founder of their foundation, filed for divorce earlier this month. “After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” the couple said in a statement announcing their divorce.
Bill Gates is one of the world’s wealthiest people. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, his net worth is $144 billion as of today.