Justice Department to Criminally Charge Boeing for Breaching 737 Max Settlement

Justice Department to Criminally Charge Boeing for Breaching 737 Max Settlement

The U.S. Justice Department intends to criminally charge Boeing for breaching a settlement connected to two deadly 737 Max jetliner crashes, according to reports from Bloomberg and Reuters. The federal government is reportedly seeking a guilty plea from Boeing, which may include a $US243.6 million criminal fine and force the planemaker to bring on an independent compliance monitor.

The Boeing-DOJ settlement followed a 2017 crash in Indonesia, which killed all 189 people on board; and a 2018 crash in Ethiopia, which killed all 157 people on board. Despite opposition from some lawmakers and relatives of those killed in the incidents, Boeing secured the $US2.5 billion settlement in 2021, which temporarily protected it from criminal prosecution. The agreement required the planemaker to report evidence and allegations of fraud and “strengthen its compliance program,” the Justice Department said at the time.

Then a panel blew off an Alaska Airlines-operated Boeing plane in January, uncloaking continuing safety and compliance issues at the company. Four months later, the federal government said in a court filing that Boeing had breached its 2021 agreement by failing to “design, implement, and enforce a compliance and ethics program to prevent and detect violations of the U.S. fraud laws throughout its operations.”

The DOJ has now decided to bring criminal charges against Boeing and wants the planemaker to accept a plea deal, according to several reports. Such a deal would include about a quarter of a billion dollars in additional fines, per Bloomberg; it could also force Boeing to bring in an independent monitor to make sure the firm follows anti-fraud laws, per AP News.

The DOJ reportedly told the 737 Max crash victims’ families and lawyers about the plea deal on Sunday, and said it would give the planemaker a week to decide whether to accept the offer or argue its case in court.

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