Some Microsoft board members have concluded that Bill Gates should have resigned last year as an investigation into an employee case was launched, according to a Wall Street Journal article.
Bill Gates finally resigned from the board in March 2020, according to the WSJ before the investigation was completed.
The board reportedly hired a law firm in 2019 to investigate the matter when a Microsoft employee claimed in a letter that she had had sex with Bill Gates for many years. The company employee, who was the company's engineer, reportedly asked Melinda French Gates, who was married to Bill at the time, to read her letter, although it is unclear if this actually happened. The Gates announced their separation this month.
"Microsoft had a complaint in the last half of 2019 that Bill Gates was trying to start a close relationship with a company employee in 2000," a Microsoft spokesman told the WSJ.
"A committee of the Board of Directors examined the complaint, with the help of an external law firm for a thorough investigation. "Throughout the investigation, Microsoft provided extensive support to the employee who made the complaint."
"The board members decided it was no longer appropriate" for Gates to remain director. "
A Gates spokesman denied that his resignation was related to the investigation.
"There was an affair almost 20 years ago that ended amicably," the WSJ spokesman said, adding that his decision to step down had nothing to do with it. In fact, he had expressed an interest in having more time for charities For several years."
However, according to the WSJ, some board members "decided that it was no longer appropriate for Gates to remain CEO at Microsoft as more was revealed about the matter and Gates resigned before a formal decision could be made."
Microsoft had pledged earlier that year to improve its handling of harassment complaints after several women shared dozens of negative experiences with the company in internal emails.
The board also reportedly asked about Gates' relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, a sex offender, but "they said the relationship was charitable and nothing more."