Bill Gates described his relationship with the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein as a “huge mistake” in a television interview aired days after his divorce from ex-wife Melinda French Gates was finalised.
Gates told CNN in an interview broadcast on Wednesday that he regretted his meetings with the notorious hedge fund manager, who was found dead in his jail cell in August 2019 after federal prosecutors in New York indicted him for operating a child sex trafficking ring and abusing dozens of underage girls. Epstein’s death was ruled a suicide by hanging.
A decade earlier, Epstein had registered as a sex offender as part of a controversial deal struck with a prosecutor in Miami to avoid federal charges at the time.
Epstein had years earlier plead guilty to charges of soliciting prostitution from a minor when Gates started meeting with him.
The billionaire philanthropist said the meetings were motivated by his desire to raise money for global health issues.
“I had several dinners with him, you know, hoping that what he said about getting billions of philanthropy for global health through contacts that he had might emerge,” Gates told CNN. “When it looked like that wasn’t a real thing, that relationship ended.”
Gates would not comment to CNN on a Wall Street Journal report that his relationship with Epstein had a hand in his divorce.
In 2019, The New York Times reported that Gates had met with Epstein on numerous occasions starting in 2011, including three times at Epstein’s New York townhouse.
The 27-year marriage of Bill and Melinda Gates formally came to an end on Monday, court documents showed.
Since the couple announced their split in May, reports have surfaced of questionable conduct involving Bill Gates, including an affair he had with a Microsoft employee almost 20 years ago, and his handling of a sexual harassment claim against his long-time wealth manager.
Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates co-founded one of the world’s largest and most influential private charitable foundations, which has spent more than $50bn over the past 20 years on global public health initiatives.
They said they would try working together at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a two-year trial period after their divorce. Should the arrangement fail, French Gates will resign from her position as co-chair and trustee and focus on her own philanthropic efforts with funding from Bill Gates.