The Microsoft founder, 65, first met Epstein in 2011 after the financier had been convicted of soliciting sex from a minor in 2008.
Epstein was also invited to fundraising dinners that promoted the Gates Foundation.
‘At the time, I didn’t realize that by having those meetings it would be seen as giving him credibility,’ Gates told The Times in an interview Sunday.
‘You’re almost saying, ‘I forgive that type of behavior,’ or something. So clearly the way it’s seen, I made a huge mistake not understanding that.’
The dinners were a point of contention between the Microsoft billionaire and his now ex-wife and business partner, Melinda French Gates, who described Epstein as ‘evil personified.’
The couple announced their separation last year after 27 years of marriage.
In earlier interviews, Gates stated how he ultimately stopped meetings with the convicted sex offender after he realized the meetings would not be productive for his philanthropic foundation.
‘I had dinners with him. I regret doing that. He had relationships he said with people he said would give to public health. Not nearly enough philanthropy goes in that direction,’ Gates said in a September 2021 interview.
‘Those meetings were a mistake. They didn’t result in what he purported, and I cut them off. You know, that goes back a long time ago now,’ he said to PBS.
The billionaire has previously claimed he had concerns about Epstein, who had pleaded guilty and was convicted in 2008 of procuring a child for prostitution and of soliciting a prostitute – years before the tech mogul met the financier.
‘I had several dinners with him hoping that what he said about getting billions of philanthropy for global health through contacts he had might emerge. When it looked like that wasn’t a real thing that relationship ended,’ Gates said.