Zia Chishti resigns as CEO of Afiniti

The chief executive of Afiniti, an artificial intelligence software firm, has resigned, the company announced on Thursday, two days after a former employee testified before a congressional committee that the executive had sexually assaulted and killed him. Beaten

According to a statement on the company’s website, the company’s board of directors said the executive, Zia Chishti, who also founded the company, “should immediately resign as chairman, chief executive officer and director of Afiniti.” gone”.

The statement said the board would make more organizational announcements in the coming days.

On Tuesday, former employee Tatiana Spotis Wood testified before the House Judiciary Committee that Mr. Chishti harassed her for several months after she started working for the company in 2016, when she was about 23 years old.

He said he sent her an e-mail describing a sexual fantasy in which he strangled her and once grabbed her hips in front of other employees.

Then, during a business trip to Brazil in 2017, he raped and beat her, Ms. Spottiswoode testified. When he hired lawyers and accused her of assault, he said, he filed a mediation suit against her.

“He knew the arbitrariness of the arbitrator would protect him,” said Ms. Spottiswoode.

Ms Spottiswoode said that when she started at Afiniti, she signed an agreement that included “an arbitration agreement with a strong confidentiality clause”.

The same day, as Ms. Spotiswood testified, a spokesman for Afiniti said in a statement that the company had “investigated the claims with an independent lawyer and concluded that it was referring to the arbitration award.” Yes, he was wrong. “

“Zia Chishti strongly denies all the allegations against him,” spokeswoman Natalie Sarni said at the time. Arrived Friday, Ms Cerny declined to comment on the record.

Mr Chishti, 50, said on Friday he had “denied all allegations”.

“I am convinced that the evidence does not support them,” he said. “Quite the opposite.”

Mr Chishti added that he was “deeply supportive of women in the workplace”.

“One of my priorities is to see if they can do it well,” he said. “As a result, the allegations are particularly painful.”

According to the BBC, Ms Spottiswoode’s testimony forced former British Prime Minister David Cameron to resign as chairman of the company’s advisory board.

Mr Cameron told the BBC in a statement that he thought the allegations were controversial but did not agree with the approach taken by the company.

Ms Spottiswoode was one of four women who testified before the committee, which was considering legislation that would end forced arbitration for sexual assault and harassment. According to lawmakers, forced arbitration often requires an employee to go through private action after accusing his or her employer of misconduct in the workplace.

On Wednesday, the committee agreed to put the bill before the House for a vote from 27 to 14. The bill has mutual support.

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