Bill Gates has called his meetings with the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein a "huge mistake."
Sitting down with CNN's Anderson Cooper, the Microsoft founder claimed he met with Epstein in hopes to raise money for global health initiatives, but soon realised the relationship helped legitimise the disgraced hedge fund manager.
"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," the tech billionaire said. "When it looked like that wasn't a real thing, that relationship ended... It was a huge mistake to spend time with him, to give him the credibility of being there."
In July 2019, Epstein was charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy to traffic minors for sex after allegations that he was operating a child sex trafficking ring circulated for decades. Eleven years prior, he had severed 13 months in jail for two prostitution charges, a controversial plea deal where he evaded federal indictment. The well-connected financier was found dead in his New York jail cell in August 2019, which medical examiners deemed a suicide.
Bill and Melinda French Gates finalised their divorce this week after 27 years of marriage. When asked by the Wall Street Journal if the divorce related to the tech magnate's connections to Epstein, he declined to comment.
Cooper questioned Gates on whether his ex-wife will stay at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the global health fund created by the couple that boasts an endowment of $49.8 billion (£35.7 billion) as of 2019. He said he hopes she stays.
"That would definitely be the best thing for the foundation," he stated. "Melinda has incredible strengths that she brings that help the foundation be better."