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“I made a mistake in judgment in that I thought those discussions would lead literally to billions of dollars going to global health,” said Gates on Wednesday at The New York Times Dealbook Conference.
“Turned out that was a bad judgment, that was a mirage,” he continued. “I gave him some benefit by the association.”
Gates – the co-founder of Microsoft and second-richest person in the world, according to Forbes’ real-time billionaires list – gave the answer in response to a question about any lessons he's learned regarding how some people feel that philanthropy “credentializes certain people.”
He further explained that he was meeting with Epstein with the intention of raising money for global health, but “none of that money ever appeared.”
“I made a doubly wrong mistake there"
Gates and his wife, Melinda Gates, founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 1997 with a focus on global health. Today, the foundation reaches 138 countries worldwide.
In August, the tech genius denied having any sort of the relationship with the disgraced financier, but changed his course in September, telling Axios: “I wish I hadn’t met with him.”
"I'd say I didn't have a ... business or personal relationship — I wouldn't go that far,” Gates told the outlet, later adding, “I won't say I knew him that well, because he was introduced to me as somebody who could bring more people into philanthropy."
He said he stopped meeting with Epstein after the funds “didn’t materialize.”
In July, Epstein — who was reportedly worth more than $550 million — was charged with sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy, but the criminal case was dismissed in August after his body was found inside his Metropolitan Correctional Center jail cell in Manhattan, hanging from strips of orange bed sheets. The circumstances surrounding his death are being investigated by the Department of Justice.
Gates' wealth is surpassed only by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. As of 11 a.m. ET Thursday, Gates was worth approximately $107.1 billion – surpassing longtime confidante, Berkshire Hathaway chief executive Warren Buffett, who has a net worth of $87.9 billion, as well as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who boasts a net worth of $69.7 billion, according to Forbes' real-time data.