Boeing news: Firm faces prosecution as US Justice Department claims it violated deal that avoided prosecution for 737 Max plane crashes

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Boeing faces prosecution as US Justice Department claims it violated a deal that meat the firm avoided prosecution for 737 Max plane crashes in 2018 and 2019

Boeing has violated a settlement that allowed the company to avoid criminal prosecution after two deadly crashes involving its 737 Max aircraft in 2018 and 2019, the Justice Department told a federal judge on Tuesday (14 May). It is now up to the Justice Department (DOJ) to decide whether to file charges against Boeing. 

The department said that prosecutors will tell the court no later than July 7 how they plan to proceed. New 737 Max jets crashed in 2018 in Indonesia and 2019 in Ethiopia, killing 346 people. 

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Boeing reached a 2.5 billion dollar (£1.97 billion) settlement with the Justice Department in January 2021 to avoid prosecution on a single charge of fraud — misleading federal regulators who approved the plane. Boeing blamed the deception on two relatively low-level employees.

In a letter filed on Tuesday in federal court in Texas, Glenn Leon, head of the Justice Department criminal division’s fraud section, said Boeing violated terms of the settlement by failing to make promised changes to detect and prevent violations of federal anti-fraud laws. The determination means that Boeing could be prosecuted “for any federal criminal violation of which the United States has knowledge”, including the charge of fraud that the company hoped to avoid with the settlement, the Justice Department said.

Boeing faces prosecution as US Justice Department claims it violated a deal that meat the firm avoided prosecution for 737 Max plane crashes in 2018 and 2019. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)Boeing faces prosecution as US Justice Department claims it violated a deal that meat the firm avoided prosecution for 737 Max plane crashes in 2018 and 2019. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)
Boeing faces prosecution as US Justice Department claims it violated a deal that meat the firm avoided prosecution for 737 Max plane crashes in 2018 and 2019. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)

However, it is not yet clear whether the government will prosecute Boeing. Boeing has until June 13 to respond the government’s allegation, and the department said it will consider the company’s explanation “in determining whether to pursue prosecution”.

Boeing Co disputed the Justice Department’s finding. A spokesperson said: “We believe that we have honored the terms of that agreement, and look forward to the opportunity to respond to the Department on this issue. As we do so, we will engage with the Department with the utmost transparency, as we have throughout the entire term of the agreement, including in response to their questions following the Alaska Airlines 1282 accident.”

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It comes as Boeing is under intense scrutiny and pressure after the Alaska Airlines flight in January which saw a door plug blow out of a 737 Max shortly after take off. The company is under multiple investigations into the blowout and its manufacturing quality. 

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