In 2019, Microsoft's board reportedly investigated a staffer's claim of an affair with Bill Gates.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the inquiry was prompted by a letter from the employee.
A Gates representative said "there was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably."
Microsoft board members opened an investigation into Bill Gates in late 2019 after an employee said she had a sexual relationship with him that spanned years, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
The board hired a law firm to conduct the investigation after the staffer made the allegation in a letter, The Journal reported, adding that at least "some" board members concluded Gates should step down from the board. When Gates did step down in March 2020, he said it was to focus on "philanthropic priorities." The Journal said the investigation was not complete when he resigned.
In a statement provided to Insider, a Microsoft representative 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."
"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," the statement continued.
According to The Journal, a representative for Gates said his decision to step down from the board was unrelated to the investigation into the relationship but acknowledged "there was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably."
The Journal's report came the same day as a report from The New York Times revealed allegations that Gates, while married, had pursued relationships with employees at Microsoft and at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Times report also cited unnamed sources as saying Gates had been dismissive toward his wife, Melinda French Gates, during meetings at Microsoft.
The high-profile couple, who met while French Gates was a Microsoft employee, announced earlier this month they were divorcing after 27 years of marriage. They said they would continue to work together at their charitable foundation.
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