The Justice Department filed criminal charges against Boeing as part of a deferred prosecution agreement that accuses the planemaker of concealing information from regulators investigating the 737 Max crashes, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.
Boeing did not immediately comment.
“The tragic crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 exposed fraudulent and deceptive conduct by employees of one of the world’s leading commercial airplane manufacturers,” Acting Assistant Attorney General David P. Burns of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, wrote in a release.
“Boeing’s employees chose the path of profit over candor by concealing material information from the FAA concerning the operation of its 737 Max airplane and engaging in an effort to cover up their deception,” he continued.
The recertified Boeing 737 Max completed its first U.S. commercial flight in December last year, almost two years after the aircraft was grounded worldwide.
The Max was banned in March 2019 after a Lion Air crash in October 2018 in Indonesia killed 189 people and was followed five months later by an Ethiopian Airlines crash that caused the death of all 157 people aboard.
In September, an investigative report from the House of Representatives placed the blame for the catastrophic accidents squarely on Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, citing a “horrific culmination of a series of faulty technical assumptions by Boeing’s engineers, a lack of transparency on the part of Boeing’s management, and grossly insufficient oversight by the FAA.”
Boeing shares were down about 2 percent in after-hours trading after the charges were announced.