The United States fines Boeing $ 200 million for misleading 737 MAX safety investors

US securities officials found Boeing $ 200 million due to the aviation giant’s misleading assurances about the safety of the 737 MAX aircraft following two fatalities, regulators announced Thursday.

Boeing accepted the fine to settle allegations of “negligently violating the anti-fraud provisions” of US securities laws, the Securities and Exchange Commission said in a statement, saying the company and its leader “put profits on people. “.

Former Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg also agreed to pay $ 1 million to settle the same charges in the civil suit.

The deal marks the latest blow for Boeing on the MAX after the Lion Air plane crash in Indonesia in October 2018 and the Ethiopian Airlines crash in Ethiopia in March 2019, which together claimed nearly 350 lives.

A month after the first crash, a Muilenburg-approved Boeing press release “selectively highlighted some facts,” implying that pilot error and poor aircraft maintenance contributed to the crash.

The press release also attested to the aircraft’s safety, not disclosing that Boeing was aware of a key flight management system, the Maneuvering Features Augmentation System (MCAS), which posed safety concerns and had been redesigned.

After the second incident, Boeing and Muilenburg assured the public that there was “no surprise or gap” in the federal certification of the MAX despite being aware of information to the contrary, the SEC said.

“In times of crisis and tragedy, it is especially important that public companies and executives provide complete, fair and truthful information to the markets,” SEC Chairman Gary Gensler said in a press release.

“The Boeing Company and its former CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, failed to fulfill this fundamental obligation. They misled investors by providing assurances about the safety of the 737 MAX, despite being aware of serious safety concerns.”

The SEC said both Boeing and Muilenburg, by agreeing to pay the fines, did not admit or deny the agency’s findings.

Boeing said the deal “completely resolves” the SEC investigation and is part of the company’s “broader effort to responsibly resolve pending legal issues relating to the 737 MAX accidents in a way that serves the best interest. of our shareholders, employees and other stakeholders, ”a company spokesperson said.

“We will never forget those lost on Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, and we have made extensive and profound changes throughout our airline in response to those incidents.”

U.S. aviation safety authorities cleared Boeing’s 737 MAX to resume service in November 2020 after a 20-month downtime following the incidents.

A major cause of the two crashes was identified in the MCAS, which was supposed to prevent the plane from coming to a stop as it boarded, but instead forced the nose of the plane down. The Federal Aviation Administration has requested Boeing to update this system to resolve the defect.

In January 2021, Boeing agreed to pay $ 2.5 billion to settle a U.S. criminal charge over claims the company defrauded regulators overseeing the 737 MAX.

© 2022 AFP