July 24, 2024

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Sources say exclusive U.S. attorneys are meeting with Boeing and crash victims to reach a decision

U.S. prosecutors are meeting with Boeing and relatives of the crash victims as a July 7 deadline approaches for the Justice Department to decide whether to criminally charge the plane maker, according to two reports reviewed by Reuters.

Justice Department officials met with Boeing lawyers on Thursday to discuss reports that the company violated a 2021 contract with the government, a source said. The deal, known as a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA), shielded the company from criminal prosecution over two 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people.

Federal prosecutors are expected to meet with the victims’ families this Sunday to update them on the progress of the investigation, according to a second source. US officials are working on a “tight schedule,” according to a Justice Department email seen by Reuters.

Boeing attorneys from Kirkland & Ellis argued to officials in the Assistant Attorney General’s Office that the criminal case was unnecessary and not necessary for violating the 2021 contract.

These appeals by companies in the crosshairs of the judiciary are common when negotiating the resolution of a government investigation.

Officials want input from victims’ family members as they consider the best way to proceed, the email said. Attorneys from the Justice Department’s Criminal Fraud Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Dallas will participate in Sunday’s meeting, according to the news release.

Spokesmen for the Justice Department and Boeing declined to comment.

Boeing previously said it “respected the terms” of the deal and formally told prosecutors it disagreed with their conclusion that it violated the agreement.

U.S. prosecutors have recommended to senior Justice Department officials that Boeing seek criminal charges after finding the planemaker violated the 2021 deal, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

They said last week that the two sides were discussing a possible settlement to the judicial inquiry, and that there was no guarantee authorities would move forward with charges.

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