REPORT: Boeing Could Be Criminally Charged In US After Allegedly Violating 2021 Agreement Over 737 Max

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Mariane Angela Contributor
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The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Tuesday that Boeing allegedly violated a 2021 deferred prosecution agreement connected to the fatal crashes of its 737 Max aircraft, NBC News reported.

The initial agreement protected Boeing from criminal charges related to these incidents. However, the DOJ now alleges Boeing did not effectively implement a compliance and ethics program to detect and prevent violations of U.S. fraud laws within its operations, according to NBC News. This information came to light in a recent DOJ filing in a federal court in Texas, which indicated Boeing could now face U.S. prosecution. The filing also mentioned the government is still determining its course of action and has given Boeing 30 days to respond.

“This is a positive first step, and for the families, a long time coming. But we need to see further action from DOJ to hold Boeing accountable, and plan to use our meeting on May 31 to explain in more detail what we believe would be a satisfactory remedy to Boeing’s ongoing criminal conduct,” Paul Cassell, attorney for the victims’ families and a professor of law at the University of Utah College of Law, said in a statement, USA Today reported.

Boeing confirmed it has received the DOJ’s notice and stated its belief that it has complied with the agreement’s terms. (RELATED: FAA Probes Boeing Over Potential Lapse In 787 Dreamliner Inspections)

“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,” the company said in a statement, NBC News reported. “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.”

A door panel on an Alaska Airlines-operated Boeing 737  Max 9 blew out midair Jan. 5, drawing increased scrutiny from federal authorities. The National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary investigation revealed that bolts meant to secure an optional emergency exit door plug were missing, according to NBC News. This incident compounds the challenges Boeing faces as it works to stabilize production and improve its reputation after the 2018 and 2019 crashes that resulted in the deaths of 346 passengers and crew.