Criminal charges recommended against Boeing

June 24, 2024  -US prosecutors have recommended that the Department of Justice (DoJ) brings criminal charges against Boeing.

It follows a claim by the DoJ that the plane maker had violated a settlement related to two fatal crashes involving its 737 Max aircraft which killed 346 people.

Boeing declined to comment when contacted by the BBC but previously it has denied violating the deferred prosecution agreement.

The DoJ has until 7 July to make a final decision on whether to prosecute the company. The DoJ has declined to comment.

The recommendation is not a final decision and the details of any potential criminal action are not known, according to CBS, the BBC’s US partner.

“This is a really critical decision that is coming up,” said Ed Pierson, who is the executive director of the Foundation for Aviation Safety and a former senior manager at Boeing.

He told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme: “There are issues with these aeroplanes. We’re seeing problems with these planes and I’m talking about 737 Max, 787 and it is reflective of the leadership.”

The plane crashes – both involving Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft – occurred within six months of each other.

The crash involving Indonesia’s Lion Air occurred in October 2018, following by an Ethiopian Airlines flight in March 2019.

Last week, relatives of the victims urged prosecutors to seek a fine against Boeing of $25bn (£14.6bn) and to pursue a criminal prosecution.

Under a deal reached in 2021, Boeing said it would pay a $2.5bn settlement and prosecutors agreed to ask the court to drop a criminal charge after three years if the company abided by certain stipulations set out in the deferred prosecution agreement.

But last month, the DoJ said Boeing was in breach of the deal, stating that it had failed to “design, implement, and enforce a compliance and ethics program to prevent and detect violations of the US fraud laws throughout its operations”.

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Boeing may face criminal prosecution over 737 Max crashes, US says

Last week, Boeing’s outgoing chief executive Dave Calhoun faced a grilling from US senators.

Mr Calhoun testified that the company had “learned” from past mistakes and that the process for employee whistleblowers “works” – but lawmakers still accused him of not doing enough to rectify a culture of retaliation.

As part of an ongoing investigation, Boeing whistleblowers told the Senate in April that the 737 Max, the 787 Dreamliner and the 777 models had serious production issues.

The company was most recently put in the spotlight when a door panel fell off a new 737 Max plane during an Alaska Airlines flight in January, leaving a gaping hole.

Mr Calhoun is stepping down as chief executive at the end of 2024 after less than five years in the role with a pay package worth $33m. He will also remain on Boeing’s board.

Mr Calhoun took over the job from Dennis Muilenburg who was fired after the two crashes.

Mr Pearson said the changes at the top of Boeing were “superficial” and even when Mr Calhoun was named as chief executive in 2019, he had already been at the company for a decade.

“They are making those decisions that are affecting millions and millions of people for many, many years,” he said.

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