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Federal prosecutors are recommending that the Justice Department pursue criminal charges against Boeing

Federal prosecutors have recommended top Justice Department officials file criminal charges against aerospace manufacturer Boeing, CBS News has learned.

While the recommendation to senior Justice Department leadership is not a final decision, it is the latest development in the ongoing back-and-forth over Boeing’s alleged problems. violation of a 2021 deferred prosecution agreement.

News of the recommended charges was first reported by Reuters.

The Justice Department ruled earlier this year that Boeing had violated the deferred prosecution agreement and indicated in court filings that the company might file charges over conduct related to two fatal 737 Max crashes in 2018 and 2019 and beyond.

The Justice Department has until July 7 to notify the federal court of its plans.

The Justice Department and Boeing did not respond to requests for comment.

The agreement stated that Boeing would pay a $2.5 billion settlement and make certain organizational changes in exchange for dropping the fraud conspiracy charges after a three-year period. That three-year period would have ended in July, after which the Justice Department would have closed the case against Boeing if it had determined that the company had held up its end of the agreement.

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But in May, federal prosecutors wrote that Boeing “breached its obligations” and allegedly failed “to design, implement and enforce a compliance and ethics program to prevent and prevent violations of U.S. fraud laws in its operations track down.”

Boeing responded in Junewith the Justice Department saying it had followed the terms of the deal and disagreed that it had breached the agreement.

Although the deal came after the two 737 Max crashes that killed a total of 346 people, Boeing has since experienced other problems with its planes. In January this year, the cabin door of an Alaska Airlines plane opened canceled mid-flight. In March, someone familiar with the case came forward confirmed to CBS News that prosecutors were investigating whether the outburst could affect the deferred prosecution agreement.

US-AVIATION-ACCIDENT-BOEING
Alaska Airlines N704AL, a 737 Max 9 that made an emergency landing at Portland International Airport on January 5, parked on the tarmac in Portland, Oregon.

PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images


a whistleblower report from June raised concerns that Boeing was using defective parts in the construction of its jets.

The report from Boeing employee Sam Mohawk claims there was a “300% increase” in reports of parts not meeting manufacturer standards when production of the 737 Max resumed. Those parts would be removed from production, but the report claims that “the 737 program lost hundreds of non-conforming parts” and “Mohawk feared that non-conforming parts were being installed on the 737s and that could lead to a catastrophic event. “

Another whistleblower, former quality manager Santiago Paredes, raised concerns about Spirit AeroSystems, the Boeing supplier that builds most of the 737 Max. Paredes told CBS News he was pressured to downplay the problems he discovered while inspecting the plane’s fuselages. He said in public comments that he often encountered problems inspecting the part of the plane that suffered the mid-air impact in January.

Boeing CEO David Calhoun faced one Senate hearing last weeksaying the company is “far from perfect” but that it is “doing everything it can to ensure every employee feels empowered to speak up when there is an issue.”

Kris Van Cleave and Kathryn Krupnik contributed reporting.

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