Bill Gates said he regrets meeting with Jeffrey Epstein and giving a $2 million donation to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) through him after the financier was convicted of sex offences.
Mr Gates, who co-founded Microsoft, met with Epstein in 2013, five years after he pleaded guilty to two charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution, and later made an an anonymous donation to MIT's Media Lab.
Focus has fallen on the pair's relationships after US media reports suggested Epstein used proxies to make $7.5 million in donations to the prestigious institution after he was removed from MIT's official donor database.
It emerged last week that Mr Gates made a $2 million donation to the MIT Media Lab in October 2014, which he requested to be recorded as an anonymous donation.
According to a leaked email seen by the New Yorker, the Media Lab's director, Joi Ito, wrote to a colleague: “This is a $2M gift from Bill Gates directed by Jeffrey Epstein”.
However Mr Gates has denied the donation was made at Epstein's behest, with a spokesperson saying “any claim that Epstein directed any programmatic or personal grant making for Bill Gates is completely false.”
And in an interview with Axios this week, Mr Gates expressed regret over his link to Epstein, saying "I wish I hadn't met with him".
Mr Gates said Epstein was introduced to him "as somebody who could bring more people into philanthropy". He added: "There were meetings along those lines. That didn't materialise, and so then I stopped meeting with him."
Asked if he felt used by Epstein, Mr Gates said: "I'd say I didn't have a ... business or personal relationship - I wouldn't go that far."
MIT's media lab has faced public backlash after it emerged that senior figures in the research laboratory had concealed the extent of its contact and fundraising ties with Epstein.
Shortly after the New Yorker published leaked internal emails, Mr Ito resigned as director of the lab and as an employee of the institution. MIT said it had launched an independent investigations into the lab's alleged links to Epstein.
Yesterday a computer scientist, Richard Stallman, also resigned from MIT after he appeared to suggest having sex with a minor does not constitute assault an in leaked comments about one of Epstein's alleged victims.
An MIT graduate, Selam Jie Gano, shared the emails online in a post calling for Mr Stallman's removal. According to her post, Mr Stallman was discussing Marvin Minsky, a deceased MIT academic, accused of assaulting one of Epstein's alleged victims, Virginia Giuffre.
Ms Giuffre has alleged in court documents that Epstein sent her to have sex with Mr Minsky.
Mr Stallman argued that Mr Minsky had not actually assaulted her because there is no suggestion that "he applied force or violence". In the emails, the computer scientist said that “the most plausible scenario is that she presented herself to him as entirely willing" while "being coerced by Epstein".
He went on to argue that sexual assault is a "vague" definition and questioned whether it applied to Mr Minsky, before going to say “it is morally absurd to define ‘rape’ in a way that depends on minor details such as which country it was in or whether the victim was 18 years old or 17.”
Announcing his immediate resignation, Mr Stallman said the move was down to “pressure on MIT and me over a series of misunderstandings and mischaracterisations”.