Boeing violated settlement to avoid prosecution after 737 Max crashes, says Justice Department

After hundreds of passengers were killed in two Boeing 737 Max crashes, the company came to a deal with the U.S. government to avoid prosecution. It has broken that deal, claims the Justice Department.

It is now up to the Justice Department to decide whether to file charges against Boeing. Prosecutors will tell the court no later than July 7 how they plan to proceed, department said.

New 737 Max jets crashed in 2018 in Indonesia and 2019 in Ethiopia, killing 346 people. Boeing reached a $2.5 billion settlement with the Justice Department in January 2021 to avoid prosecution on a single charge of fraud — misleading federal regulators who approved the plane. Boeing blamed the deception on two relatively low-level employees.

In a letter filed Tuesday in federal court in Texas, Glenn Leon, head of the Justice Department criminal division's fraud section, said Boeing violated terms of the settlement by failing to make promised changes to detect and prevent violations of federal anti-fraud laws.

This doesn't even have anything to do with the recent near-disasters, scandals and dead whistleblowers. The ultimate form of these businesses is a homogenous slop of beancounters who head toward next-quarter profits the way water finds its level. It's not enough to find one who was an engineer for three years in the 1970s before they were Peter Principled into management. Sooner or later this puppy has to go to the gravel pit. Unfortunately….

However, it is not clear whether the government will prosecute Boeing.

"The Government is determining how it will proceed in this matter," the Justice Department said in the court filing. Boeing will have until June 13 to respond the government's allegation, and department said it will consider the company's explanation "in determining whether to pursue prosecution."