DOJ Claims Boeing Broke Non-Prosecution Agreement

Boeing | Image by Michael Vi/Shutterstock
Boeing | Image by Michael Vi/Shutterstock

The Department of Justice claimed in a court filing on May 14 that Boeing violated the terms of a settlement they reached in 2021, which would have allowed the aircraft manufacturer to avoid prosecution on federal fraud charges.

Boeing denied that the company broke the terms of the deal. Federal prosecutors arranged the settlement in secret negotiations after Boeing 737 Max jets crashed in 2018 and 2019. The pair of crashes killed 346 passengers and crew.

It was later determined that the crashes were caused by a faulty flight control system that Boeing was aware of but did not change until after the second crash. The system had the potential to malfunction and put the plane into a steep dive the pilots could not overcome.

Boeing has until June 13 to submit a response to the allegations outlined in the letter filed in a federal court in Texas by Glen Leon, the head of the Justice Department criminal division’s fraud section. Prosecutors must inform the court no later than July 7 whether charges will be filed.

Reuters reported that the letter claims Boeing failed to “design, implement, and enforce a compliance and ethics program to prevent and detect violations of the U.S. fraud laws throughout its operations.” The DOJ’s determination means Boeing could face federal criminal charges “for any federal criminal violation of which the United States has knowledge.”

Still, Boeing issued a public statement disputing the allegations.

“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,” a Boeing spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday. “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.”

The company’s quality control measures have been questioned following a series of mishaps and near-disasters involving its aircraft. As previously reported by The Dallas Express, some observers link the troubled company’s issues to its efforts to implement “diversity, equity, and inclusion” initiatives in its hiring practices rather than prioritizing safety.

In January, a door plug blew off an Alaska Airlines flight while the aircraft was airborne. A whistleblower revealed that Spirit Aerosystems, a Boeing contractor that manufactures fuselages, had incorrectly drilled holes in the aircraft bulkheads and improperly installed rivets that required extensive reworking. A flight control system that was improperly torqued was also identified.

The quality control issues have resulted in significant delays in the delivery of new aircraft and have forced airlines to cut flights and furlough pilots, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

The DOJ court filing “is an important first step towards holding Boeing accountable for the deaths of 346 passengers and crew on the two flights,” Paul Cassell, a lawyer representing victims’ family members, told Reuters. “But now the Justice Department needs to move this prosecution forward, vigorously and effectively towards a conviction.”

Boeing could face additional fines beyond the $2.5 billion settlement arranged in 2021. Under the terms of the settlement deal, Boeing was directed to make changes to detect and prevent violations of anti-fraud laws. Boeing has blamed two low-level employees for allegedly deceiving federal regulators who approved the Boeing 737 Max jet. The DOJ claims Boeing failed to make the promised changes.

Support our non-profit journalism

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Continue reading on the app
Expand article