(Reuters) – Microsoft conducted an investigation into Bill Gates’s involvement with an employee nearly 20 years ago after reporting in 2019 that he had tried to start a romantic relationship with the person, the company said on Monday.
Microsoft said it had been notified in the second half of 2019 that Gates “had sought to enter into an intimate relationship with a company employee in 2000,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement.
“A Board committee reviewed the concern, with the help of an outside law firm to conduct a thorough investigation. Throughout the investigation, Microsoft provided broad support to the employee who raised the concern,” the statement said.
The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Microsoft’s board had decided Gates’s relationship with the employee was inappropriate and that he needed to resign in 2020, citing people familiar with the matter.
The Microsoft spokesman declined to comment on whether the board had decided that Gates should leave.
In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, a Gates spokesman said his decision to leave Microsoft’s board had nothing to do with their relationship.
“There was an affair almost 20 years ago that ended amicably. Bill’s decision to leave the board was in no way related to this matter,” the statement said. “In fact, he had expressed interest in spending more time on his philanthropy for several years before.”
A spokesman for the Gates Foundation told Reuters it supported the statement to the newspaper.
The billionaire, who co-founded Microsoft in 1975 and served as its CEO until 2000, declared in March 2020 that he would be leaving the board to focus more on philanthropy.
Gates and his wife Melinda filed for divorce earlier this month after 27 years of marriage.
(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee; written by Carmel Crimmins; Edited in Spanish by Janisse Huambachano)