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Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Bill Gates and his philanthropist wife Melinda Gates announced earlier this month that they are getting a divorce. The breakup of one of the world’s most wealthy and powerful couples has given rise to scrutiny over what may have caused them to take the step. One of the main reasons for the divorce is believed to be the world-famous software pioneer’s questionable behaviour in work-related settings, highlighted by several leading newspapers in their reports.
Bill Gates pursued women who worked for him at Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on several occasions, the New York Times reported, quoting people familiar with the developments.
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In 2018, a sexual harassment claim against the billionaire’s longtime money manager Michael Larson came to light. While Bill Gates insisted that the matter be settled internally, Melinda Gates wanted an outside investigation. At the end of the investigation, Melinda Gates was reportedly not satisfied with her husband’s handling of the matter, according to NYT. Michael Larson still works for Gates.
The following year, Microsoft’s board of directors, of which Bill Gates was a part, initiated investigation into a case after being told that their co-founder had “sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000,” according to Frank X Shaw, a Microsoft spokesperson. The incident was reported by Wall Street Journal. In 2020, Bill Gates stepped down from Microsoft’s board. However, Bridgitt Arnold, spokesperson for Bill Gates, said the affair took place 20 years ago and ended ‘amicably’. “Gates’s decision to transition off the board was in no way related to this matter,” she added.
Also Read: Bill and Melinda Gates to divorce after 27 years of marriage
The nail in the coffin is said to be the billionaire’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, who faced accusations of sex trafficking and pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution from a minor. When Bill Gates started spending time with him in 2011, three years after Epstein’s confession, Melinda Gates expressed her discomfort. When Bill Gates did not put an end to his association with Epstein and their relationship became public in October, 2019, Melinda Gates hired divorce lawyers, according to people who attended or were briefed on gatherings with the two men, NYT reported.
Arnold, however, said that characterisation of his conduct was not right. “It is extremely disappointing that there have been so many untruths published about the cause, the circumstances and the timeline of Bill Gates’s divorce,” she said.
“Any claim that Gates spoke of his marriage or Melinda in a disparaging manner is false. The claim of mistreatment of employees is also false. The rumours and speculation surrounding Gates’s divorce are becoming increasingly absurd, and it’s unfortunate that people who have little to no knowledge of the situation are being characterised as ‘sources’,” she added.