Microsoft Corp.’s directors started a probe into Bill Gates’s alleged involvement with a female employee that was deemed inappropriate and decided that the co-founder had to step down from the board last year, Dow Jones reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
The software giant had received a concern in 2019 that that Gates had tried to have an “intimate” relationship with an employee in 2000, Dow Jones cited a Microsoft spokesman as saying. The board reviewed the matter with the help of an outside law firm, the spokesman added.
Board members handling the matter hired the law firm to conduct the investigation after receiving a letter from a Microsoft engineer who said she had a sexual relationship with Gates for years, Dow Jones said. Gates left before the probe was completed, it reported.
A spokeswoman for billionaire was cited as saying that Gates’s decision to leave the board wasn’t related to an affair almost two decades ago that ended amicably. The departure from Microsoft’s board had to do with his interest in spending more time on his philanthropy.
Representatives for Gates and Microsoft couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Last week, Cascade Investment, the investment company created by Gates, transferred stock in Deere & Co. to Melinda French Gates, bringing the total amount she’s received since they announced their divorce to more than $3 billion.
The investment vehicle transferred about 2.25 million shares worth about $851 million, according to a regulatory filing. That followed similar disclosures tied to Mexican companies Coca-Cola Femsa and Grupo Televisa and about $1.8 billion of stock in Canadian National Railway Co. and AutoNation Inc.
The couple announced their divorce earlier this month after 27 years of marriage. The Gates fortune is valued at about $145 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.