A U.S. appeals court upheld a settlement deal between U.S. prosecutors and a Dutch company accused of illegally selling aircraft parts to Iran.
The ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on April 5 said it was the Justice Department's job to negotiate the terms of a deferred prosecution agreement, and U.S. District Judge Richard Leon should not have rejected the deal in February 2015 as too lenient.
The closely watched case raised questions about whether judges can refuse to accept negotiated deals withdrawing charges in exchange for a company admitting wrongdoing, paying a fine, and meeting other conditions laid down by the department.
At issue was a deal that called for Dutch aerospace company Fokker Services BV to pay at least $10.5 million in penalties in exchange for the Justice Department not prosecuting the company for illegal exports to Iran and other countries between 2005 and 2010.
Appeals Court Judge Sri Srinivasan said only prosecutors can make decisions about whether to bring charges and dismiss charges.
"It has long been settled that the judiciary generally lacks authority to second-guess those executive determinations," he said.