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Boeing Agrees to Plead Guilty to Fraud in US Investigation of Fatal 737 MAX Crashes

The plea deal would brand the planemaker a convicted felon in connection with crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on July 8, 2024, 16:16:56

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Boeing has agreed to plead guilty to a criminal fraud conspiracy charge and pay a fine of $243.6 million to resolve a US Justice Department investigation into two 737 MAX fatal crashes, the government said in a court filing.

The plea deal, which requires a judge's approval, would brand the planemaker a convicted felon in connection with crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia over a five-month period in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people.

The settlement drew swift criticism from victims' families who wanted Boeing to face a trial and suffer harsher financial consequences.

The Justice Department's (DOJ) push to charge Boeing has deepened an ongoing crisis engulfing Boeing since a separate January in-flight blowout exposed continuing safety and quality issues at the planemaker.

A guilty plea potentially threatens the company's ability to secure lucrative government contracts with the likes of the US Defense Department and NASA, although it could seek waivers.

Boeing became exposed to criminal prosecution after the Justice Department in May found the company violated a 2021 settlement involving the fatal crashes.

Still, the plea spares Boeing a contentious trial that could have exposed the company's decisions ahead of the fatal crashes to even greater public scrutiny. It would also make it easier for the planemaker, which will have a new CEO later this year, to try to move forward as it seeks approval for its planned acquisition of Spirit AeroSystems.

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