Multi-millionaire founder of an American call centre technology company advised by former UK prime minister David Cameron has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by a former employee.
Zia Chishti, 50, the founder of software company Afiniti, allegedly beat 23-year-old Tatiana Spottiswoode while having sex with her on a work trip to Brazil in 2017, leaving her injured.
He then allegedly told her that ‘he should have had sex with me when I was thirteen years old’, according to testimony she gave to a US Congressional committee.
Today, Mr. Cameron’s spokesman announced he had stepped down from the role.
Ms. Spottiswoode said she met Mr. Chishti when she was 12 or 13, and met him again when she was a student at Columbia Law School.
She told the committee: ‘When I was in my senior year of college, in December 2014, Chishti, who was 43 at the time, invited me on a ski trip. I was 21.
‘I initially declined, but he insisted he wanted me to meet his nephew, who also studied philosophy. So I agreed. I later learned that the nephew, who never showed up, didn’t exist.’
‘The trip was designed to groom me. Chishti told me he had feelings and showed me an extravagant lifestyle.’
Ms. Spottiswoode said she rejected him, but eventually dated him about five times over ten weeks before eventually breaking off the relationship.
She continued: ‘Months later, Chishti encouraged me to join his company. He presented a rosy picture of a great career opportunity. I believed him. Chishti told me he did not expect a sexual relationship.’
When Ms. Spottiswoode joined his company in 2016, she said she signed a contract that included an arbitration agreement with a ‘strong confidentiality clause’.
She went on to describe a toxic work environment, saying he ‘ocellated between pressurizing me for sex and punishing me’.
‘During a work meeting in Dubai, he put his hands under my pants and grabbed my but in front of co-workers,’ she said.
Ms. Spottiswoode went on to describe another work trip to Brazil.
‘I avoided him as much as I could, but was under increasing pressure from him. I began to worry that, in addition to wanting sex, Chishti wanted to hurt me and punish me for rejecting him,’ she said.
‘I felt completely trapped and hopeless. I was 23 and very far from home.
‘I didn’t want to lose my job, I didn’t want him to get any angrier, I did not feel that anyone would protect me and I was too tired to argue with him anymore. I went to his room where he beat me while having sex with me.
‘I told him he was hurting me, he said, ”Good”. He told me he should’ve had sex with me when we first met, when I was 13-years-old.
‘I hid in my hotel room until my flight the next day. My body was covered with scratches, cuts, and contusions.
‘I had bruises around my neck that looked like I had been strangled, a large bump on my head, and a black eye. A nurse at the hospital said I had the symptoms of a concussion.’
Mr. Cameron, 55, joined Afiniti as the chairman of its advisory board in 2019, two years after the incident is alleged to have taken place.
A source close to the former prime minister told The Daily Telegraph he did not know about the allegations until they were aired in Congress.
Afiniti provides artificial intelligence software for managing call centres.