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Prosecutors seek criminal charge for Boeing: sources

STORY: Boeing may yet face criminal charges.

Reuters sources say prosecutors are recommending the move, after finding the plane maker violated a settlement related to two fatal crashes.

Boeing had been shielded from criminal charges over the loss of two 737 MAX jets in 2018 and 2019.

Under the terms of a deal agreed in 2021, the company avoided prosecution for conspiracy to commit fraud over design flaws with the planes.

That was in return for overhauling its compliance procedures and submitting regular reports.

It also agreed to pay $2.5 billion to settle an investigation into the crashes.

However, the sources say prosecutors have now concluded that Boeing did not honor the terms of the deal.

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That follows the midair blowout on another MAX jet earlier this year, which revived concerns over the firm’s quality controls.

There was no comment on the report from the Justice Department or Boeing, which has previously insisted it met all terms set by the 2021 deal.

Appearing before Congress last week, Chief Executive Dave Calhoun insisted the firm was striving to address its problems:

"Much has been said about Boeing's culture. We've heard those concerns loud and clear. Our culture is far from perfect, but we are taking action and we are making progress.”

Now it’s not clear exactly what charges might be brought, with possible penalties including a big fine.

It’s thought the company would be reluctant to negotiate a settlement if it meant pleading guilty, as that could see it hit with extra business restrictions.

Relatives of victims in the two fatal crashes have long criticized Boeing’s exemption from prosecution.

They protested inside and outside Congress during Calhoun’s appearance, demanding that the company face criminal charges.