A member of the Aum Supreme Truth cult and another man were rearrested Monday on suspicion of fraud for selling a product that contained steroids without a permit, police said.
Takashi Inoue, the 36-year-old head of the cult‘s center in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, and Kiyoshi Nakano, 37, a business owner of Tachikawa, also in Tokyo, were held and indicted earlier on suspicion of violating the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law.
This is the first time the police have charged somebody with fraud after arresting them on suspicion of violating this law.
According to the Metropolitan Police Department, the two men sold products they called Togen cream, advertising it as steroid-free medicine to help heal atopic dermatitis and other skin problems. The men are suspected of swindling nine people out of 185,000 yen for a year from March 2003.
The two suspects repeatedly lied to customers, telling them that the product was entirely made from peaches and could be used on babies, the police said.
The MPD’s Consumer and Environmental Protection Division arrested them on suspicion of fraud, saying the practice was deceptive and the two could possibly face more severe penalties on fraud charges than those for violating the law. The MPD said the men might have sold at least 5,700 units between February 2003 and April this year, netting them 37 million yen, of which 9 million yen was believed to have been donated to the cult.