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WASHINGTON: Bill Gates left the Microsoft board in 2020 as the board pursued an investigation into the billionaire’s romantic relationship with a female employee, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

The founder and former head of the US technology giant stepped down as board chair in March 2020.

“Microsoft Corp. board members decided that Bill Gates needed to step down from its board in 2020 as they pursued an investigation into the billionaire’s prior romantic relationship with a female Microsoft employee that was deemed inappropriate,” the Journal reported, citing people close to the matter.

This was “an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably,” a spokeswoman for Gates told the Journal.

According to the spokeswoman, Gates left Microsoft to focus more on his philanthropic organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Gates and his wife Melinda, who co-founded their charity two decades ago to battle global poverty and disease, announced their divorce on May 3 after 27 years of marriage.

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