Former ASPA Director Charles David Veal arrested on allegations he embezzled USD 3 million

Charles David Veal

Former American Shrimp Processors Association (ASPA) Director Charles David Veal was arrested on 7 December and faces a felony charge claiming he embezzled USD 3 million (EUR 2.8 million) from the association.

Veal, 79, served as executive director of the Biloxi, Mississippi, U.S.A.-based organization, which represents U.S. wild-caught warmwater shrimp processors, for over a decade. He was arrested by Biloxi police on 7 December.

ASPA filed a lawsuit in Harrison County Circuit Court that accuses Veal of fraud, unjust enrichment, breaching his duty of trust, and gross negligence, the SunHerald reported

Veal denied he embezzled money and claimed to know nothing about any potential financial wrongdoing related to the organization he led, according to SunHerald. Veal and an ASPA attorney did not respond to requests for comment from SeafoodSource.

The criminal complaint alleges Veal stole the approximately USD 3 million between May 2016 and July 2022. Veal transferred or wrote checks to himself totaling more than USD 3.8 million (EUR 3.5 million), the lawsuit alleges. Since his salary was nearly USD 858,000 (EUR 798,000) during the six years, the total embezzled is around USD 3 million, according to the lawsuit.

Veal set up an annuity or annuities in his own name and created inaccurate or misleading financial reports, documents, and data to justify his employment so that he could continue stealing funds from the organization, according to the complaint.

He also destroyed ASPA records and failed to file required tax documents, the lawsuit said, per the SunHerald. Even though he told ASPA he was paying lobbyists, advertising agencies, and attorneys, the money was going to his own personal account. Veal arranged meetings with those individuals as a cover for the payments. 

Veal also hid the amount of money ASPA received from unspecified settlements, the lawsuit said.

It is unclear what effect – if any – the embezzlement case will have on the ASPA, which has long fought against shrimp imported into the U.S. In late October, the organization filed trade petitions seeking additional antidumping and countervailing duties on imported shrimp.

ASPA is asking a judge to award unspecified compensation, plus punitive damages, court costs, and attorneys fees. The organization is also requesting an independent accountant or third party appointed to determine the total amount of the loss and a trust established for recovered funds.  

Photo courtesy of the Biloxi Police Department


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