Billionaire philanthropist Warren Buffett has announced his resignation as trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
His resignation comes just weeks after Bill and Melinda Gates announced they were getting divorced and amid allegations of impropriety against Bill Gates.
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Buffett was one of three members of the foundation’s board; the other two are Bill and Melinda Gates.
RT reports: In a Wednesday statement, Buffett said his latest $4.1 billion distribution of shares he owns in the holding company Berkshire Hathaway puts him halfway towards delivering on a pledge to give away 99% of those assets and warranted some reflections.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been one of the five principal recipients of Buffett’s financial contributions and the only one not operated by a Buffett family member. Yet, after spending years as an “inactive” trustee on the board, he is resigning.
“I am now resigning from that post, just as I have done at all corporate boards other than Berkshire’s,” he said, pledging his support to the recently appointed CEO of the foundation, Mark Suzman. “My goals are 100% in sync with those of the foundation, and my physical participation is in no way needed to achieve these goals.”
Buffet offered no particular reason for the move and didn’t address the latest publicity problems that his personal friend Bill Gates had suffered from recently. He and Melinda Gates announced their divorce last month after 27 years of marriage. Some media alleged that Bill Gates’ connection to the disgraced late financier and convicted sex predator Jeffrey Epstein had put a strain on their relationship.
Later it was reported that Gates left the board of Microsoft last year after the software company he founded launched a probe into an affair with a female employee back in 2000 and possible impropriety on his part. A spokesman for the billionaire acknowledged the affair, but denied it had any connection with the surprise resignation. Gates also resigned from the board of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway at the same time.
In his Wednesday statement, Buffett addressed the perception that philanthropy for rich people is a form of avoiding paying taxes. He said in his own case, donating $41 billion to the five foundations “has led to only about 40¢ of tax savings per $1,000 given” because of the relatively small income he gets from his immense wealth.
“Nevertheless, tax deductions are important to many – particularly to the super-rich – who give large amounts of cash or securities to philanthropy,” he stressed. “It is fitting that Congress periodically revisits the tax policy for charitable contributions, particularly in respect to donors who get ‘imaginative.’”
The 90-year-old stressed that his statement is “no swan song” and he still relishes “being on the field and carrying the ball.”