Boeing Could Face Criminal Prosecution Over 737 MAX Crashes: Justice Department

According to a letter from Glenn Leon, Chief of the Justice Department’s Fraud Section, Boeing could face criminal prosecution over the 737 MAX crashes.

Boeing Could Face Criminal Prosecution Over 737 MAX Crashes: Justice Department 1

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On May 14, the U.S. Department of Justice found that Boeing had broken a deferred prosecution agreement, which had allowed the aerospace corporation to avoid facing criminal charges following two fatal disasters involving its 737 MAX aircraft.

After meeting behind closed doors with the families of the victims of the 2018 and 2019 wrecks on April 24, Justice Department prosecutors broke the news to a federal judge on May 14. According to the Justice Department, the agency now has until July 7 to determine whether to bring criminal charges against Boeing. During that period, it will inform the court of its plans.

According to a letter from Glenn Leon, chief of the Justice Department’s fraud section, the aerospace business violated its 2021 deferred prosecution agreement by failing to put in place safeguards to keep it from breaking federal anti-fraud statutes.

A fraud allegation that Boeing wanted to avoid with its $2.5 billion settlement with the U.S. government was one of the federal criminal violations for which the Justice Department stated it may pursue the firm.

Investigations have shown that a new flight-control system that Boeing installed on the aircraft without informing airlines or their pilots was responsible for the 2018 and 2019 737 MAX crashes. The aerospace company then downplayed the significance of the system and postponed reevaluating its implementation until after the second tragedy claimed more lives.

Following an investigation by the Justice Department, the case was settled on January 7, 2021, with a deferred prosecution agreement. Following discussions behind closed doors with Boeing, the department decided not to press charges related to misleading the regulators who approved the 737 MAX and defrauding the government.

Rather than that, Boeing settled for a total of $2.5 billion. This includes a $500 million fund for victim compensation, roughly $1.8 billion to airlines whose 737 MAX aircraft were grounded, and a $243.6 million punishment to the US government.

According to Acting Assistant Attorney General David P. Burns of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, “the tragic crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 exposed fraudulent and deceptive conduct by employees of one of the leading commercial airplane manufacturers” in 2021.

“Boeing’s employees chose the path of profit over candor by concealing material information from the FAA concerning the operation of its 737 Max airplane and engaging in an effort to cover up their deception.”

A statement released by the Justice Department in 2021 regarding the Boeing agreement also mentioned U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox of the Northern District of Texas.

“The misleading statements, half-truths, and omissions communicated by Boeing employees to the FAA impeded the government’s ability to ensure the safety of the flying public,” she said.

The contract between Boeing and the US government was scheduled to expire on January 7, which was two days after a door panel on an Alaskan Airlines flight—which also included a 737 MAX—blew off in midair. The Justice Department began looking into whether Boeing had broken the terms of the 2021 settlement in 2024 as a result of that occurrence.

Boeing has been the target of numerous civil lawsuits, congressional investigations, and heightened public scrutiny of its business activities as a result of the numerous crashes and incidents.

Following a closed-door meeting with the agency on April 24 that produced no definitive updates on its investigation, Paul Cassell, the attorney representing the relatives of the victims of the 737 MAX tragedy, expressed concern in late April that the Justice Department was providing Boeing “preferential treatment.”

“We don’t understand how it could possibly be in the public interest to dismiss the charges and avoid a trial that could shed light on so many of the safety issues that continue to surface regarding the 737 Max that’s made by Boeing,” he told The Epoch Times.

Recently, GreatGameIndia reported that Boeing has announced the resignation of Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun following a series of failures. A board chaired by Steve Mollenkopf will be responsible for selecting a new CEO.

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