Boeing could face criminal prosecution after violating 2021 agreement, DOJ says

Boeing could face criminal prosecution after officials determined that the company violated an agreement reached after two deadly 737 Max crashes claimed the lives of 346 people.

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The Justice Department reached the agreement with Boeing in 2021, after 2018′s Lion Air Flight 610 crash and the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash in 2019.

However, officials said Tuesday in a notice filed in court that the company had “breached its obligations” under the 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.”

“For failing to fulfill completely the terms of and obligations under the (deferred prosecution agreement), Boeing is subject to prosecution by the United States for any federal criminal violation of which the United States has knowledge,” prosecutors said, adding that the government is still “determining how it will proceed.”

Boeing has until June 13 to respond to the allegations.

In a statement obtained by Bloomberg News, the company 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 part of the January 2021 agreement, the Justice Department agreed to defer prosecution of a fraud charge related to a system installed on Boeing 737 Max planes that pushed the planes’ noses down in some circumstances. Boeing admitted to deceiving the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Evaluation Group about the system, which is believed to have contributed to the 2018 and 2019 crashes.

Boeing agreed to cooperate with investigators and strengthen its compliance program after the crashes. It also agreed to pay $2.5 billion.

Tuesday’s filing came after a series of safety incidents — including one that saw a door plug blow off a Boeing 737 Max 9 jetliner midflight in January — heightened scrutiny of the company’s safety procedures. The Justice Department launched a criminal investigation into the January incident earlier this year.

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