Public officials who steal from the people they are supposed to help should pay the price — and that’s what happened in Arizona this week.
A former Arizona official will go to prison for 10 years and have to pay back to taxpayers the $5.9 million he admitted stealing from a state health program for the poor, the Associated Press reported.
Michael John Veit, 64, received his sentence in court this week. Before he was fired last August, Veit oversaw office-supply and other contracts for the Arizona Medicaid program. Instead of paying for services, millions of dollars ended up with Veit’s friends and family.
“Always remember that the money he gave to others was not his to give,” Mary McGary, the prosecutor, said.
Worldwide, $3.5 trillion is paid every year in bribes or stolen by corrupt officials.
The Obama administration has stepped up efforts to stop fraud before it happens, recover fraudulent payments and prosecute fraudsters. Anti-fraud efforts recovered last year more than $3.35 billion that was improperly spent in government health care programs.
The U.S. agenda to fight corruption and bribery is comprehensive. It includes promoting financial transparency and tightly restricting shell companies, as highlighted in this column by Tom Malinowski, assistant U.S. secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor.