The Department of Justice Is Considering Letting Boeing Off the Hook for Criminal Charges

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly considering allowing Boeing to avoid punishment for its alleged criminal offenses linked to the fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019.

This decision is being considered even though U.S. prosecutors have suggested that Boeing should face criminal charges for breaching a previous settlement agreement.

The DOJ is now set to decide by July 7 whether to prosecute Boeing or not, according to New York Times.

Yet, senior officials in the department seem to have already decided that pursuing legal action against the company would carry too much “legal risk.”

“Officials see the appointment of an independent watchdog as a quicker, more efficient way to ensure that the troubled company improves safety, manufacturing and quality control procedures,” the Times reported.

The DOJ’s potential choice not only undermines the rule of law but also signals to other corporations that they can avoid accountability if they they are big enough and powerful enough.

This situation exemplifies a double standard in justice, where big corporations can influence the system while everyday citizens, particularly conservatives, are held to a separate set of rules.

Under a 2021 agreement, Boeing was spared a criminal charge for conspiracy to commit fraud related to the fatal crashes. The agreement required Boeing to revamp its compliance procedures and provide regular reports as part of the deal.

In return, the DOJ agreed not to prosecute Boeing over allegations that it defrauded the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

However, Boeing reportedly violated this agreement by not adequately establishing and maintaining a compliance and ethics program to prevent violations of U.S. fraud laws. Despite this, the Biden administration’s DOJ is contemplating offering Boeing another deferred prosecution agreement.

As reported by The New York Times:

The Justice Department is considering allowing Boeing to avoid criminal prosecution for violating the terms of a 2021 settlement related to problems with the company’s 737 Max 8 model that led to two deadly plane crashes in 2018 and 2019, according to people familiar with the discussions.

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The department has not made final decisions or ruled out bringing charges, or some other solution, the people said. But it is considering offering Boeing what is known as a deferred prosecution agreement, which is often used to impose monitoring and compliance obligations on businesses accused of financial crimes or corruption, as opposed to trying to convict the company.

The agreement, if it is offered, might stipulate that Boeing install a federal monitor to oversee safety improvements, according to the people familiar with the situation.

The government is expected to extend its settlement offer to Boeing before the end of the month. The terms are still subject to change.

A decision to forego criminal prosecution would be a win for Boeing and its customers, employees and shareholders, given that such a lawsuit has forced companies to file for bankruptcy in the past. That includes Arthur Andersen, a once storied U.S. accounting firm that collapsed after being federally convicted of obstruction of justice for its role in the 2001 Enron scandal.

Its demise sent ripples through the financial system and serves as a reminder of the devastation a prosecution of Boeing could have on a company that is critical to the U.S. aviation industry.

If Boeing is convicted of a felony fraud, it could be restricted from receiving government contracts — including military ones — which make up a significant portion of its revenue.

It would be another blow for a company that has been struggling with significant quality and safety issues, including an episode in January, when a panel on a Boeing 737 Max 9 jet operated by Alaska Airlines blew out midflight, exposing passengers to the outside air thousands of feet above ground.

Aviation giant Boeing is facing an increasing number of whistleblowers stepping forward with safety concerns in the wake of the recent deaths of two previous whistleblowers.

The whistleblowers have portrayed a troubling image of Boeing, claiming the company put profits ahead of safety, ignored problems, and punished employees who raised concerns.

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By Hunter Fielding
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29 days ago

Too Big to Jail?

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