TOKYO – Authorities in Japan arrested three former managers of a Wagyu cattle farm on suspicion the trio tried to bilk 73,000 investors out of $4.34 billion, according to news accounts.

The managers of the Agura farm offered investors a stake in an ownership system with guaranteed annual returns of 8 percent. They said investors would profit from the calves born to the cows. The farm told investors that they kept a breeding stock of 90,000 to 100,000 cows, but the actual number was at 60,000.

The Wall Street Journal
reported that the firm filed for bankruptcy due to declining beef prices caused by the Fukushima nuclear plant accident. The farm is less than 100 km from the plant.

Wagyu refers to several breeds of cattle, one of which is famous for its genetic predisposition to intense marbling. The meat from those cattle commands high prices.