Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on Wednesday addressed his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein as a “huge mistake.”
Speaking to CNN, Gates said he had “several dinners” with Epstein about 10 years ago. Epstein, a disgraced financier accused of sex trafficking and child abuse, was found dead in a jail cell in Manhattan in 2019.
Those dinners occurred years after Epstein was convicted and sentenced to soliciting prostitution from a minor. Epstein in 2008 pleaded guilty to the charges, serving 13 months in custody but with extensive work release.
Gates, one of the wealthiest people in the world, told the network that when he met with Epstein, they discussed the prospect of receiving billions of dollars in philanthropy but ended the relationship after it “looked like that wasn’t a real thing.”
“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, and when it looked like that wasn’t a real thing, that relationship ended,” Gates said in the interview, adding that it was a “huge mistake” to meet with Epstein.
“But it was a huge mistake to spend time with him, to give him the credibility of, you know, being there, there were lots of others in that same situation, but I made a mistake,” he said.
In 2019, speaking to Axios, Gates said that he regretted having met with Epstein after the financier’s death.
At the time, Gates stressed that he didn’t know Epstein “that well,” adding that the two were connected via philanthropy work.
“There were meetings along those lines,” he continued. “That didn’t materialize, and so then I stopped meeting with him.”
Several months ago, the Wall Street Journal and other news outlets reported that Melinda Gates met with divorce lawyers in 2019 after she learned of reports regarding Bill Gates and Epstein. On Monday, the couple’s divorce was finalized, and Gates told CNN it was a “sad milestone” but they’re both still working on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“My work is very important to me, you know, within the family we’ll heal as best we can and learn from what’s happened,” he added.
Gates, meanwhile, drew some controversy last month after he and billionaire investor George Soros jointly announced they would buy out a COVID-19 testing company.
The Soros Economic Development Fund, an arm of Soros’ Open Society Foundations, confirmed in a July 19 statement that it has partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and will invest “at least” $41.1 million in the project, according to a statement at the time.
“The group has financed the acquisition of Mologic Ltd, a world-leading innovator in the development of lateral flow and rapid diagnostic technologies including tests that can help combat tropical diseases such as dengue, bilharzia, and river blindness, as well as for COVID-19,” their statement read.