Following reports that the two held meetings to discuss philanthropy, Bill Gates said in an interview today that he had no “business relationship or friendship” with Jeffrey Epstein, the deceased financier and sex offender.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Gates admitted to meeting with Epstein, but he said he did not have interactions with him beyond that. The Microsoft founder said he was “never at any parties or anything like that,” and that all the meetings they held together “were meetings with men.”
“I met him,” Gates told the Journal. “I didn’t have any business relationship or friendship with him. I didn’t go to New Mexico or Florida or Palm Beach or any of that. There were people around him who were saying, hey, if you want to raise money for global health and get more philanthropy, he knows a lot of rich people.”
Gates, according to media accounts, met with Epstein starting in 2013, while Gates was still Microsoft’s chairman. The meetings started years after Epstein was first sentenced to jail for soliciting an underage sex worker in 2008. Last week, The New Yorker reported that Epstein secured $2 million in donations for the MIT Media Lab as well.
The reports of the meetings immediately raised questions about why Gates would need Epstein’s connections in philanthropy, especially in light of the financier’s history. Epstein died of suicide in a Manhattan jail cell last month, as he faced child sex trafficking charges.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation did not immediately respond to a request for further comment on the interview.