MICROSOFT founder Bill Gates had an affair with a female employee and quit the board while it was investigated, it is claimed.

His secret sexual encounters with her are said to have begun in 2000.

But they apparently only came to light when the unnamed engineer wrote a letter to the board in 2019.

Tech billionaire Gates, 65, reportedly resigned as a director suddenly in March 2020 while a probe was under way.

The board deemed the relationship “inappropriate”, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The employee is said to have asked for Gates’s wife, Melinda, to read the letter.

The couple announced their divorce this month after Melinda said the 27-year marriage was “irretrievably broken”.

Gates spokeswoman Bridgitt Arnold admitted: “There was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably.

"Gates’s decision to transition off the board was in no way related to this matter.”

A Microsoft representative added: “Microsoft received a concern in the latter half of 2019 that Bill Gates sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000.

“A committee of the board reviewed the concern, aided by an outside law firm, to conduct a thorough investigation.

“Throughout the investigation, Microsoft provided extensive support to the employee who raised the concern.”

Gates also unsuccessfully asked two women at Microsoft and his charitable foundation out on dates in or around 2006 and 2007, the New York Times reported.

Meanwhile, it was reported he sought advice over his “toxic” marriage from convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

Gates was said to have visited the late financier’s New York home for dozens of meetings between 2011 and 2014.

Ms Arnold said they met only to “discuss philanthropy”.

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