Boeing may evade criminal charges for violating settlement

4 weeks ago 61

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department is considering allowing Boeing to avoid criminal prosecution for violating the terms of a 2021 settlement related to problems with the company’s 737 Max 8 model that led to two deadly plane crashes in 2018 and 2019, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The department is expected to make a decision on the case by the end of June. Prosecutors have not made a final call nor have they ruled out bringing charges against Boeing or negotiating a possible plea deal in which the company admits some culpability, the people said.

It is possible that any negotiated resolution – either in the form of an agreement to defer prosecution or a plea deal in which the company would admit wrongdoing – would include the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee the company’s safety protocols.

Offering Boeing what is known as a deferred prosecution agreement, which is often used to impose monitoring and compliance obligations on businesses accused of financial crimes or corruption, as opposed to trying to convict the company, would avoid the uncertainties of a criminal trial.

But it would anger families of passengers killed in recent crashes who want to see the company pay for its safety lapses. And while prosecutors are considering a new agreement, they recently told the families they had not ruled out bringing charges, according to a person briefed on the exchange.

Federal prosecutors said in May that Boeing had violated a previous deferred prosecution agreement by failing to set up and maintain a program to detect and prevent violations of US anti-fraud laws. The settlement was reached in 2021, after Boeing admitted in court that two of its employees had misled federal air safety regulators about a part that was at fault in the two crashes.

The aircraft manufacturer’s violation of that settlement allowed the Justice Department to file criminal charges. But some department officials have expressed concern that bringing criminal charges against Boeing would be too legally risky. Officials see the appointment of an independent watchdog as a quicker, more efficient way to ensure that the troubled company improves safety, manufacturing and quality control procedures.

A decision to forgo criminal prosecution would be a win for Boeing and its customers, employees and shareholders, given that such a lawsuit has forced companies to file for bankruptcy in the past.

That includes Arthur Ande...

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