Boeing pays $200 million to settle SEC charges over 737 Max

  • FILE - Boeing employees work on the 737 MAX on the final assembly line at Boeing's Renton plant, June 15, 2022 in Renton, Wash. The SEC announced Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, that Boeing Co. will pay $200 million to settle allegations that the company and its former CEO misled investors about the safety of its 737 Max after two of the airliners crashed, killing 346 people. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times via AP, Pool, File)

Boeing Co. will pay $200 million to settle charges that the company and its former CEO misled investors about the safety of its 737 Max after two of the airliners crashed, killing 346 people.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Thursday that it charged the aircraft maker and former CEO Dennis Muilenburg with making significant misleading public statements about the plane and an automated flight-control system that was implicated in the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. Neither Boeing nor Muilenburg admitted wrongdoing, but they offered to settle and pay penalties, including $1 million to be paid by Muilenburg, who was ousted in December 2019, nine months after the second crash. The SEC said Boeing and Muilenburg knew that the flight system, known as MCAS, posed a safety issue but promised the public that the plane was safe. The SEC said they also falsely claimed that there had been no gaps in the process of certifying the plane in the first place.

“Boeing and Muilenburg put profits over people by misleading investors about the safety of the 737 Max all in an effort to rehabilitate Boeing’s image” after the crashes, said Gurbir Grewal, director of the SEC’s enforcement division. Boeing said it has made “broad and deep changes across our company in response to those accidents” to improve safety and quality.

“Today’s settlement is part of the company’s broader effort to responsibly resolve outstanding legal matters related to the 737 Max accidents in a manner that serves the best interests of our shareholders, employees and other stakeholders,” said the Virginia-based company.

A new Max operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air crashed into the Java Sea in October 2018, and another Max flown by Ethiopian Airlines nosedived into the ground near Addis Ababa in March 2019. In each crash, MCAS pushed the nose down after getting faulty readings from a single sensor, and pilots were unable to regain control.

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