Divorce talks between Bill and Melinda Gates started in 2019 partly due to Jeffrey Epstein: Wall Street Journal

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) – Melinda Gates began working with divorce lawyers well over a year before her split with Bill Gates was announced last week, partly over concerns about her husband’s dealings with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The 56-year-old spoke with attorneys from several firms as early as October 2019, saying the marriage was “irretrievably broken,” the Journal reported Sunday (May 9), citing documents and people familiar with the matter.

Her unease about her ex-husband’s ties to Epstein dates back to at least 2013, the paper said.

The New York Times in October 2019 reported that Bill Gates had met with Epstein several times, and once stayed late at his townhouse in New York.

A spokeswoman for Gates said at the time that the meetings had centred on philanthropy.

Epstein had died in jail two months prior while awaiting trial on federal charges related to sex trafficking.

The divorce was negotiated during the pandemic, involving legal teams working with a mediator to divide their fortune, which the Bloomberg Billionaires Index pegs at US$145 billion (S$192 billion).

The couple said this week that they plan on remaining co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and will continue to jointly lead.

They’ve vowed to give away the vast majority of their wealth.

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