Prosecutors Recommend Charges for Boeing

Prosecutors Want Boeing To Face Charges

( – The Justice Department (DOJ) notified District Judge Reed O’Connor in May that it might pursue prosecution against Boeing “for failing to fulfill completely” deferred prosecution agreement terms and conditions. In the letter, prosecutors told the judge they would determine whether to pursue charges against the company by July 7. However, federal prosecutors working closely on the case have strongly recommended that senior DOJ officials consider pressing charges.

Boeing and the DOJ reached the deferred prosecution agreement in 2021. This came after investigators determined that lax safety protocols and corporate “fraud and misconduct” prevented pilots and airlines from learning about critical safety issues with the 737 Max, resulting in two fatal crashes in October 2018 in Indonesia and March 2019 in Ethiopia that killed 346 passengers.

The deferred prosecution agreement required Boeing to pay $2.5 billion in penalties and compensation to survivors’ families and implement protocols to improve transparency, safety, and compliance. Government investigators alleged that Boeing failed to “design, implement, and enforce a compliance and ethics program” that could detect or prevent safety and fraud violations.

Reed gave Boeing a June 13 deadline to respond to DOJ allegations. In a statement, representatives stressed that the company had “honored the terms of that agreement.” The spokesperson added that the company would continue to “engage with the [DOJ] with the utmost transparency,” maintaining the same pattern it had already established.

Yet, as recently as a June 18 Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun formally apologized for the company’s failure to adhere to quality, safety, and transparency standards and for creating a culture where whistleblowers faced reprisals. Time and again, senators pointed out glaring examples of how Boeing failed to develop or maintain transparency with its customers or regulators.

Families, some of whom attended the Senate committee hearing, also favor aggressive prosecution of the company. Attorney Paul Cassell, representing several of the family members from the 2018 and 2019 crashes, submitted a letter to the DOJ advocating for prosecution on behalf of his clients, seeking maximum penalties of $25 billion, an extension of the 2021 settlement, and more stringent terms, including a third-party corporate monitor to supply supervision and ensure the company meets the terms of any agreement reached.

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