An employee works near a Boeing 737 Max aircraft at the Boeing 737 Max manufacturing facility in Renton, Washington, the United States, on December 16, 2019.
Lindsey Wasson | Reuters
Boeing agreed to pay more than $ 2.5 billion to settle criminal complaints with the U.S. Department of Justice that the company accused of hiding information about its 737 Max plane, which was involved in two crashes the Federal Prosecutor announced on Thursday that 346 people were killed.
Prosecutors said Boeing "knowingly and deliberately conspired to cheat" to defraud the United States by undermining the Federal Aviation Administration's ability to assess the safety of the aircraft.
Under the deferred law enforcement arrangement, the Federal Aviation Administration was not "fully" aware of the capabilities of a flight control system on the aircraft, software that was later implicated in the two crashes.
"The tragic crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 exposed fraudulent and misleading behavior by employees of one of the world's leading manufacturers of commercial aircraft," wrote Assistant Attorney General David P. Burns of the Department of Justice's Criminal Division in a release. "Boeing employees chose the win over openness path by hiding essential information about the operation of their 737 Max aircraft from the FAA and trying to cover up their deception."
The crashes plunged Boeing into its worst crisis ever and sparked a global launch of its best-selling aircraft. Numerous investigations, including the roughly two-year investigation by the Justice Department, have damaged the reputation of one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in the world.
Last month, the FAA approved software and other security changes Boeing had made to the planes and gave airlines permission to fly them again.
Boeing shares fell about 1% after close of trading.
The company admitted the wrongdoing and waived legal proceedings under the settlement contract.
"This is an essential solution to a very serious matter, and I firmly believe that it is the right thing for us to enter into this resolution – a move that properly recognizes that we have failed to live up to our values and expectations", said CEO Dave Calhoun in a note to Boeing employees.
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