Boeing to plead guilty to fraud in US probe of fatal 737 MAX crashes

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Boeing has agreed to plead guilty to a criminal fraud conspiracy charge and pay a $243.6 million fine to settle a U.S. Justice Department investigation into two fatal 737 MAX crashes.

The crashes, which occurred in Indonesia and Ethiopia in 2018 and 2019, resulted in 346 deaths. The plea deal, pending judge approval, labels Boeing a convicted felon and mandates it to invest $455 million over three years in safety and compliance programs.

The plea agreement avoids a trial that could have exposed Boeing’s internal decisions to greater scrutiny but has drawn criticism from victims’ families seeking harsher penalties.

The deal includes provisions for Boeing’s board to meet with victims’ families and imposes an independent monitor to oversee compliance, with Boeing remaining on probation for three years. Boeing’s future government contracts may be at risk, but it can seek waivers.

The Justice Department’s push for charges follows a finding that Boeing violated a 2021 settlement related to the crashes. The investigation revealed that Boeing made false representations to the FAA about the MCAS software, which was linked to the crashes.

The plea agreement does not shield Boeing from other potential investigations or charges, and families of the victims have urged the Justice Department to pursue a higher penalty.

Source: Reuters

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