October 4, 2022

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Former Coal Company Vice President Arrested and Charged with Foreign Bribery, Money Laundering, and Wire Fraud

22 min read

A former coal company executive was arrested today on charges of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), laundering funds, and receiving kickbacks as part of an alleged scheme to pay bribes to government officials in Egypt in connection with contracts with an Egyptian state-owned and state-controlled company, Al Nasr Company for Coke and Chemicals (Al Nasr).

The seven-count indictment alleges that Charles Hunter Hobson, 46, of Knoxville, Tennessee, engaged in the bribery and money laundering scheme between late 2016 and early 2020. During part of that time, Hobson was the Vice President of a coal company in Pennsylvania (referenced as Company 1 in the indictment) and responsible for the company’s business relationship with Al Nasr. Hobson and others, including Company 1’s sales intermediary, allegedly paid bribes to Al Nasr officials in Egypt to obtain approximately $143 million in coal contracts for Company 1. To effectuate the bribery scheme, the indictment alleges, Hobson and others caused Company 1 to: (1) pay commissions to the sales intermediary, who passed on bribes to Al Nasr officials in exchange for the coal contracts, and (2) transfer the corrupt commission payments from a bank account in the United States to a bank account in the United Arab Emirates. The indictment also alleges that Hobson conspired to secretly receive a portion of the commissions paid to the sales intermediary as kickbacks.    

Hobson is charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA, two counts of violating the FCPA, one count of conspiracy to launder money, two counts of money laundering, and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He faces up to five years in prison for each of the bribery conspiracy and bribery charges, and up to 20 years in prison for each of the money laundering conspiracy, money laundering, and wire fraud charges. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The defendant will make his initial court appearance this afternoon in the Eastern District of Tennessee.  

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Cindy K. Chung for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, and Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance.

The FBI’s International Corruption Unit in Washington, D.C., and the Washington Field Office are investigating the case.

Trial Attorneys Leila E. Babaeva and Natalie R. Kanerva of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric G. Olshan of the Western District of Pennsylvania are prosecuting the case.

The Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) matters. Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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