Boeing Will Plead Guilty to a Criminal Fraud Charge Stemming from 737 Max Crashes

A Boeing 737. Photo: Shutterstock

By Steve Neavling

Boeing will plead guilty to a criminal fraud charge stemming from two airplane crashes in Indonesia in 2018 and Ethiopia in 2019. 

The plea is part of a deal with the Justice Department to avoid a criminal trial after investigators determined the planemaker violated an agreement that had protected it from prosecution for more than three years, according to a court filing reported by The New York Times. 

Boeing also agreed to pay $487.2 million in penalties and spend at least $455 million over the next three years to strengthen its compliance and safety programs. 

The company will also be placed on supervised probation for about three years, during which a Justice Department-appointed independent compliance monitor will ensure that safety measures are followed. 

The Justice Department presented the plan to family members of the 737 Max crash victims a little more than a week ago. At the time, relatives criticized the deal, saying it failed to hold Boeing accountable, according to Erin Applebaum, one of the lawyers representing victims’ family members.

Boeing reached a settlement in 2021 after a pair of fatal crashes related to defects in the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft killed nearly 350 people in 2018 and 2019. As part of the settlement, the company was shielded from criminal liability for fraud. In exchange, the company pledged to overhaul its compliance system and pay a $2.5 billion fine. 

Last month, the DOJ found that Boeing violated the agreement.

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