Microsoft investigated co-founder Bill Gates’ involvement with an employee nearly 20 years ago after learning in 2019 that he had attempted to start a romantic relationship with the person, the company said on Monday.
Microsoft said it received a concern in the second half of 2019 that Gates “sought to establish an intimate relationship with a company employee in 2000,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement.
“A committee of the board of directors examined the problem, assisted by an outside law firm to conduct a thorough investigation. Throughout the investigation, Microsoft provided significant support to the employee who raised the issue, ”the statement said.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that Microsoft’s board of directors had ruled that Gates’ involvement with the employee was inappropriate and that he was to step down in 2020, citing people familiar with the matter.
The Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment on whether the board has decided that Gates should leave.
In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, a spokesperson for Gates said his decision to leave the Microsoft board had nothing to do with his involvement with an employee.
“There was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably. Bill’s decision to leave the board was in no way related to this issue, ”the statement said.
“In fact, he had expressed an interest in devoting more time to his philanthropy for several years.”
A spokesperson for the Gates Foundation told Reuters he is upholding the statement to the newspaper.
The billionaire, who co-founded Microsoft in 1975 and served as its CEO until 2000, said in March 2020 that he was stepping down from the board to focus more on philanthropy.
Gates and his wife Melinda filed for divorce earlier this month after 27 years of marriage.
Be smart with your money. Get the latest investment information delivered straight to your inbox three times a week with the Globe Investor newsletter. register today.