(CNN) — Microsoft founder Bill Gates said he "shouldn't have had dinners" with Jeffrey Epstein during an interview with Australia's ABC 7 .30.
Gates and Epstein, the powerful financier who was accused of child sex trafficking before dying, of an apparent suicide, in a New York City jail cell while awaiting trial, had met numerous times beginning in 2011, according to a New York Times report. But Gates had told CNN he only had dinners with him for potential philanthropic opportunities.
Epstein plead guilty to two state prostitution charges and was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2008 — well before Gates' meetings with him.
Presenter Sarah Ferguson grilled Gates, asking if he "regrets the relationship he maintained" with Epstein, going against his ex-wife Melinda Gates' advice.
"You're going way back in time," Gates said, adding he's said this "over the hundredth time."
"I shouldn't have had dinners with him," Gates responded.
Ferguson asked if Melinda was warning Gates about Epstein's "way of sexually compromising people."
"No," Gates said, and he repeated that he regrets "having dinner with him." He also denied there was a relationship of any kind between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Epstein.
Gates made similar comments to CNN in August 2021.
"It was a huge mistake to spend time with him, to give him the credibility of being there," Gates said to Anderson Cooper.
Gates said in the CNN interview he met with Epstein to raise more money to deal with global health issues.
"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," Gates said. "When it looked like that wasn't a real thing, that relationship ended."
New York federal prosecutors unsealed a criminal indictment against Epstein in July 2019, alleging the wealthy financial manager operated a sex trafficking ring where he sexually abused dozens of underage girls. These allegations had followed Epstein for years.
Epstein was found dead in his New York jail cell in August 2019; the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said his cause of death was suicide by hanging.
Gates made similar statements to the to the Wall Street Journal, when it reported that his social connection to Epstein played a role in his divorce from Melinda French Gates.
"It's a time of reflection, and at this point, I need to go forward," Gates told CNN in 2021. "Within the family, we'll heal the best that we can."
— CNN's Andy Rose contributed to this story.
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