Man handed 5½-year prison term for scamming Asashoryu

AFP-JIJI

A 78-year-old Japanese businessman was sentenced to 5½ years in prison Friday for swindling former Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu out of $1.1 million.

Takeo Kikuchi conspired with an associate in 2009 to cheat the then-champion, whose real name is Dolgorsuren Dagvadorj, by saying they needed the money to help develop projects in Mongolia, the Tokyo District Court said.

Kikuchi and Takaharu Kumada, 65, told the wrestler they had gold ingots abroad and wanted to melt and cash them in before investing in Mongolia, presiding judge Yukihiko Imasaki said. Kumada has been tried separately on the same charges and is awaiting sentencing.

Dagvadorj handed them about ¥100 million after they asked him to help pay an overdue storage fee for the gold.

“What the defendants told him (Dagvadorj) were all false,” the judge said.

“We cannot help but sympathize with him as the defendants took advantage of his feelings for his country although he was so naive as to respond to such a suspicious proposition,” he said.

Dagvadorj retired from competition in 2010 after winning 25 tournaments as the third-most successful wrestler in sumo history while raising some eyebrows for making comments and behavior which were seen as too abrasive for a sumo champion.

Now 32, he is a leading entrepreneur and personality in his home country.