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Who is Zia Chishti and what are the allegations against him?

Afiniti CEO Zia Chishti steps down after sexual assault allegations

Zia Chishti, Pakistani-American billionaire and founder of software company Afiniti, has stepped down from his senior roles in the wake of sexual assault allegations against him.  

“The Board of Directors of Afiniti announces that Mr Zia Chishti has stepped down from his role as Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and Director of Afiniti, effective immediately,” the company said in a statement posted on the company’s website.

Two former employees of Afiniti confirmed to Bloomberg that Chishti reached a settlement with another young woman, who had been assaulted by Chishti, from discussing any details of the assault or compensation.

Who is Zia Chishti?

American born Zia Chishti is a recipient of Sitara-e-Imtiaz, the third highest civilian honour in Pakistan. He spent his childhood in Lahore after moving back to Pakistan from the US with his mother Sadia Chishti, who holds a doctorate and is a former member of the Islamic Ideology Council of Pakistan.

Zia received his MBA from Stanford University where he was an active member of the Friends of Arjay Miller Society, and his BA from Columbia University in Economics and Computer Science where he was a member of the varsity crew team.  

Zia was the Chairman of the Board and CEO of Afiniti and the Founding Partner, Chairman and CEO of The Resource Group. Zia began his career in the mergers and acquisitions department of Morgan Stanley & Company in New York and London and briefly served as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company in London.

Zia is the non-executive Chairman of the Boards of two publicly traded TRG portfolio companies, and also maintains several private board positions.

What are the allegations?

Tatiana Spottiswoode, a 23-year-old former Afiniti employee, testified before a US congressional committee investigating arbitration clauses that companies write into contracts, and the effects they can have on victims of harassment and other crimes, according to Bloomberg.   

The report quoted Spottiswoode as saying that 50-year-old Chishti had sexually assaulted her during a trip to Brazil. She said that after the assault, Chishti filed for arbitration to silence her from speaking about the ordeal.

Spottiswoode, the daughter of an Afiniti co-founder, shared photographs as evidence of the assault. She said the sexual assault was so violent that a nurse who subsequently examined her at a hospital, stated that she had signs of a concussion.

“My body was covered with scratches, cuts and contusions,” Spottiswoode testified, adding, “I had bruises around my neck that looked like I had been strangled, a large bump on my head, a black eye.”

During her testimony, Spottiswoode also described a 2016 visit to Dubai where she alleged Chishti groped her in front of other colleagues and assaulted another.

Pakistan Stock Market

Reports have emerged that Zia is also likely to resign as CEO of TRG Pakistan Limited, which has faced major losses at the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) since November 16.

TRG Pak share price slid from Rs130 on Tuesday to Rs111 on Thursday. The share closed at lower lock yesterday. When the PSX opened on Friday, the TRG Pak share faced another bout of panic selling and immediately slid 7.5% closing at Rs103 with a lower lock.

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