A company executive and former Olympic judoka was arrested on Feb. 29 on suspicion of defrauding a woman by claiming to use her investment to purchase cryptocurrency on her behalf.

Kenji Maruyama, 58, is accused of swindling about 40 million yen, which is about $266,870, from a company executive in her 70s from Togane, Chiba Prefecture, since 2018.

The suspect allegedly used LINE messages and phone calls to persuade the victim into purchasing virtual currency, promising her a guaranteed return on the investment, according to police.

Police believe that the total damages may reach several hundreds of million yen.

Maruyama competed in judo at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics where he finished seventh before retiring from the sport and opening a children’s judo workshop in Kasuga, Fukuoka Prefecture.

The Asahi Shimbun interviewed the former Olympian in November after the allegations surfaced.

Excerpts of the interview follow:

Question: You collected money from investors, claiming to purchase cryptocurrency with the fund. Where did the money go?

Maruyama: I used it for things like travel expenses when going overseas to buy cryptocurrency. The conversion (of the cryptocurrency in question) into cash hasn’t started yet, so I haven’t received much of it myself.

Q: Didn’t you intend to swindle the investors?

A: I never had any intention of deceiving anyone. I introduced cryptocurrency to them with good intentions.

Q: Why did you ask people to invest in cryptocurrency?

A: Seven years ago, I met a woman through Facebook who said she needed my help to promote the OneCoin cryptocurrency.

I wasn’t interested at first, but she kept inviting me to just listen to her speak. She encouraged me to attend a cryptocurrency seminar, and I went to one that was held at a hotel in Tokyo.

There were some celebrities there, and I thought, “This must be the real deal.” So I started investing.

Q: How did you meet the woman who paid you 40 million yen?

A: I was introduced to her four or five years ago by an acquaintance of a person I met at the seminar.