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Knoxville man arrested in international FBI investigation pleads ‘not guilty’

Hunter Hobson was arrested in Knoxville March 31, on charges of money laundering and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act through an alleged scheme to pay bribes to Egyptian officials.
Published: Apr. 1, 2022 at 12:36 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 21, 2022 at 3:29 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A Knoxville man was arrested March 31, as part of an international FBI investigation involving a scheme where government officials in Egypt were bribed, according to court documents obtained by WVLT News.

The indictment alleged Knoxville resident Hunter Hobson, 46, was acting as a coal company executive when he became involved in a bribery and money laundering scheme between 2016 and 2020. The seven-count indictment alleged Hobson paid bribes to Egyptian officials for $143 million in coal contracts with Al Nasr Company, a state owned and state-controlled Egyptian coal company.

Hobson was also accused of conspiring to secretly receive part of the commissions paid to a sales intermediary as kickbacks.

Hobson was charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal to bribe a foreign official. He was also charged with 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,” according to a release from the United States Department of Justice.

The conditions of Hobson’s release from jail included reporting to a probation officer, surrendering his passport, and getting permission before leaving the East Tennessee district. The only exception to travel restriction is traveling to the Western District of Pennsylvania for a court date in Pittsburgh on April 19, 2022 at 9:30 a.m. At the arraignment, Hobson entered a not guilty plea, according to officials with the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Hobson is the CEO of INMET Mining which owns the D-29 Darby Fork Mine in Harlan County, Kentucky where a coal miner named James Brown died in March.

“It is with our deepest sorrow that we must now confirm the passing of James Brown,” INMET CEO Hunter Hobson said at the time. “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with James’ family and also his coworkers at INMET. We were praying for a different outcome. At this time, we have no further comment as we transition from the recovery efforts and continue working with both State and Federal agencies to determine what happened.”

On his LinkedIn page, Hobson indicated he graduated from the University of Tennessee and previously worked for Knoxville based Smoky Mountain Coal Corporation. WVLT News reached out to Hobson for comment, and will update when we get a response.

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