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Boeing to plead guilty to criminal fraud charges over 737 Max crashes

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The U.S. Department of Justice has announced that Boeing will plead guilty to criminal fraud charges related to the two fatal crashes of its 737 Max aircraft, which resulted in the deaths of 346 individuals. This decision comes after the company was found to have violated a previous agreement that shielded it from prosecution for over three years.

As part of the plea agreement, Boeing is expected to pay a $243.6 million fine, mirroring the amount paid in a 2021 settlement where the Justice Department highlighted the company’s breach of contract. Additionally, Boeing is mandated to invest a minimum of $455 million into enhancing its compliance and safety programs. An independent monitor will also be appointed to oversee Boeing’s safety and quality procedures for the next three years.

The plea deal, which is pending approval by Texas U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, does not implicate any current or former Boeing officials directly. However, the agreement has been criticized by lawyers representing the families of the crash victims, labeling it a sweetheart deal that inadequately addresses the gravity of Boeing’s actions and the resulting loss of life. These attorneys plan to request Judge O’Connor to reject the deal.

Boeing’s troubles were compounded by a recent incident involving a 737 Max, where an emergency exit door detached during an Alaska Airlines flight, prompting renewed scrutiny over the aircraft’s safety and raising further questions for the Federal Aviation Administration.

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