Software company Afiniti’s founder Zia Chishti stepped down from his senior roles in the wake of sexual assault allegations against him, it emerged on Friday.
According to a statement issued on the company’s website, the Pakistani-American stepped down as chairman, chief executive officer and director with immediate effect.
According to the official statement on the company website:
“BERMUDA, November 18, 2021 – The Board of Directors of Afiniti, Ltd. (“Afiniti”) announces that Mr. Zia Chishti has stepped down from his role as Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and Director of Afiniti, effective immediately. The Board will make additional organizational announcements in the coming days.”
A spokesperson for Afiniti shared with Sky News on November 17 as saying “we take any allegations of this nature extremely seriously” and that Chishti “strongly disputed all accusations against him”.
Afiniti’s founder Zia Chishti spent more than a decade constructing Afiniti, which he claimed would transform call center operations. He surrounded himself with a star-studded team of advisers, including a retired US admiral, A-List CEOs, and three previous heads of state, including former UK Prime Minister David Cameron. He employed a high-powered sales team that included a member of the royal family and Winston Churchill’s great-grandson. He also signed up big-name clients like Caesars Entertainment and Enel SpA.
That attempt began to fall apart on Thursday when Afiniti’s board of directors announced that Chishti would resign immediately.
The announcement came just two days after a 23-year-old former employee testified before a congressional committee in the United States about arbitration clauses in contracts and the chilling effect they can have on victims of harassment and other crimes.
Former employee Tatiana Spottiswoode claims Chishti, 50, sexually assaulted her during a business trip to Brazil. She claims that after accusing the founder of assaulting her, he filed for arbitration to put an end to any accusations.
Spottiswoode, the daughter of an Afiniti co-founder, said that the alleged assault was so brutal that a nurse who checked her at a hospital claimed she showed symptoms of concussion. Spottiswoode testified, “My body was covered in scratches, scrapes, and contusions.” “I had strangled-looking marks around my neck, a massive bump on my head, and a black eye.”
The testimony, according to five former Afiniti employees, exemplifies the company’s culture of frequent drinking and drug usage.
Mr. Zia Chishti has stepped down as Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and Director of Afiniti, effective immediately, according to the company’s announcement. “In the following days, the Board will make other organizational announcements.”
Spottiswoode claimed that the arbitrator found that Chishti had sexually harassed and abused her, but that his lawyers tried to convince her to overturn the decision. She testified that the founder offered her an undisclosed sum in exchange for dropping a court action Chishti had filed against her father and paying him $1 million.