Behind the scenes

The links between Bill Gates and Jeffrey Epstein examined

Disclosures about affairs and non-disclosure agreements could become public during Gates’ divorce proceedings, sources claim

Bill Gates

The billion-dollar divorce of Bill and Melinda Gates could open the floodgates to a torrent of allegations of infidelity and non-disclosure agreements used to protect the Microsoft founder’s public image, former employees have claimed. 

“There have been whispers for years” about Bill’s “inappropriate extramarital relationships”, Vanity Fair reports, adding that “for the people who worked for him”, his “behaviour was something of an open secret”.

One former employee told the magazine that Gates would often leave the Microsoft headquarters just hours after arriving, saying: “We all assumed that it was when he was with women. I knew there were many off-site meetings that were not on his calendar.” 

Others told Vanity Fair that allegations against Gates have been “largely suppressed by Gates’s liberal use of nondisclosure agreements, ostensibly to keep more damning details under wraps”.

Questions are also still swirling over the billionaire’s relationship with the late paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. A source told The Wall Street Journal in May that the Gate’s divorce was triggered by Melinda due to Bill’s “dealings with the convicted sex offender”.

Fateful meeting

Announcing their divorce, the couple gave no explanation for their separation beyond a joint statement shared on Twitter that said “we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives”. But a former employee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation told the WSJ that Melinda’s “concerns about the relationship” between her husband and Epstein “date as far back as 2013”.

According to The Daily Beast, Melinda was present for a meeting between her husband and Epstein at the latter’s Upper East Side mansion in September of that year, and afterwards told friends that “she was furious at the relationship between the two men”.

Melinda described “how uncomfortable she was in the company of the wealthy sex offender”, the site says, and “told friends she wanted nothing to do with him”. Sources close to the couple told the site that “Gates’ friendship with Epstein – who for years was accused of molesting scores of underage girls – still haunts Melinda”.

Another source close to the pair told People Magazine that “Epstein is definitely a sore spot” for Melinda, adding that her concerns about her husband’s relationship with the disgraced financier date back to those first meetings in 2013 - and that eight years is “a long time for issues to ester”.

While the split was down a “variety of reasons”, anything relating to Epstein was a “major trauma” for Melinda, the source said. “She was totally opposed to what she considered shady dealings and some other issues he wanted to pursue in the business area,” the insider added. “She was not afraid to speak up about it either.”

Bill has “done his best to minimise his connections” with the disgraced billionaire, The New York Times (NYT) reports, telling the WSJ in April: “I didn’t have any business relationship or friendship with him.”

However, the NYT found that “beginning in 2011”, Gates “met with Epstein on numerous occasions”, including “at least three times at Epstein’s palatial Manhattan townhouse, and at least once staying late into the night”.

Employees of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation “also paid multiple visits to Epstein’s mansion”, the paper adds, while “Epstein spoke with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and JPMorgan Chase about a proposed multibillion-dollar charitable fund”.

The Gates’ charitable foundation has “championed the well-being of young girls”, the NYT notes. But at the point at which the meetings with Epstein began, Epstein had already served jail time for soliciting prostitution from a minor and was registered as a sex offender.

Common friends

According to the NYT, “two members of Gates’s inner circle” acted as “intermediaries between the two men” during their relationship. Boris Nikolic, “a biotech investor and former adviser to Gates”, was one such intermediary, The Daily Beast adds. 

Nikolic “frequently travelled and socialised” with Gates, the NYT says, before being “mysteriously named a backup executor in Epstein’s last will and testament” following his suicide in 2019, The Daily Beast adds. A picture obtained by the NYT shows Nikolic, alongside Gates, during a 2011 meeting at Esptein’s Manhattan mansion.

Melanie Walker, who Epstein hired “as a science adviser in 1998”, is thought to have introduced Nikolic to Epstein, the NYT continues. Having worked for Epstein, “she joined the Gates Foundation with the title of senior program officer” in 2006, the paper adds.

While working at the foundation, Walker, “who had remained in close touch with Epstein”, met Nikolic and introduced him to her former employer. A source close to Walker told The Daily Beast that “she did not attend nor help set up any meetings between Gates and Epstein”.

In a statement to the NYT, Nikolic said that he was “shocked” to be named in Epstein’s will, adding: “I deeply regret ever meeting Mr. Epstein.” Nikolic has declined in court proceedings to act as executor to Epstein’s will.

Charity plans

Epstein’s relationship with Bill Gates “appears to have cooled” around 2014 when the late billionaire “complained to an acquaintance” that Gates had “stopped talking to him”, a person familiar with the pair’s relationship told the NYT.

However, shortly before this, Epstein was involved in talks to set up a “charitable fund” linked to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Investment Fund, the paper reports. 

Epstein suggested an arrangement in which he would “round up donations from his wealthy friends” in exchange for “0.3% of whatever money he raised”, the paper continues. Had he “raised $10bn (£7.1bn), for example, that would have amounted to $30m [£21.3m] in fees”.

The fund never materialised. However, in September 2019, Gates said: “I didn’t go to New Mexico or Florida or Palm Beach or any of that. There were people around [Epstein] who were saying, ‘Hey, if you want to raise money for global health and get more philanthropy, he knows a lot of rich people’.

“Every meeting where I was with him were meetings with men. I was never at any parties or anything like that. He never donated any money to anything that I know about.”

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