SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Microsoft's directors started a probe into Mr Bill Gates' 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 on Sunday (May 16), citing people familiar with the matter.
The software giant had received a concern in 2019 that Mr 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 Mr Gates for years, Dow Jones said. Mr Gates left before the probe was completed, it reported.
A spokesman for Mr Gates told The Wall Street Journal: "There was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably." She said his decision to leave the Microsoft board was in no way related to this matter.
Last week, Cascade Investment, the investment company created by Mr Gates, transferred stock in Deere & Co to Ms Melinda Gates, bringing the total amount she has received since they announced their divorce to more than US$3 billion (S$4 billion).
The investment vehicle transferred about 2.25 million shares worth about US$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 and AutoNation.
The couple announced their divorce earlier this month after 27 years of marriage. The Gates fortune is valued at about US$145 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.