MLB launches investigation into Shohei Ohtani and ex-interpreter scandal

Los Angeles, California - Major League Baseball on Friday announced a formal investigation into the scandal swirling around Shohei Ohtani and his former interpreter amid charges the Los Angeles Dodgers superstar was the victim of "massive theft."

The MLB has opened a formal investigation into the scandal involving Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani (r.) and his former interpreter.
The MLB has opened a formal investigation into the scandal involving Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani (r.) and his former interpreter.  © Jung Yeon-je / AFP

The Dodgers fired Ippei Mizuhara, Ohtani's longtime interpreter and close friend, on Thursday after Ohtani's representatives alleged the Japanese two-way star had been the victim of theft reported to involve millions of dollars and link Mizuhara to a suspected illegal bookmaker in California.

"Major League Baseball has been gathering information since we learned about the allegations involving Shohei Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhara from the news media," MLB said in a statement.

"Earlier today, our Department of Investigations (DOI) began their formal process investigating the matter."

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ESPN reported that MLB is expected to request interviews with all parties, including Ohtani and Mizuhara, although officials cannot compel Mizuhara's cooperation because he no longer works in the major leagues.

The murky affair emerged this week when West Hollywood law firm Berk and Brettler issued a statement on behalf of Ohtani after receiving media inquiries about a reported federal investigation into alleged illegal bookmaker Mathew Bowyer in which Ohtani's name surfaced.

Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani reportedly victim of "massive theft"

Shoehei Ohtani was allegedly the victim of a "massive theft" involving sports betting.
Shoehei Ohtani was allegedly the victim of a "massive theft" involving sports betting.  © Jung Yeon-je / AFP

"In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft, and we are turning the matter over to the authorities," the law firm said.

ESPN reported that questions had arisen around "at least $4.5 million in wire transfers sent from Ohtani's bank account" to an associate for Bowyer.

ESPN said that multiple sources, including Mizuhara himself, told the media outlet that Ohtani doesn't gamble and that the funds covered Mizuhara's losses.

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Bowyer's lawyer, Diane Bass, told the Los Angeles Times that Bowyer had never had any contact with Ohtani.

MLB's gambling policy bars "any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee" from betting on baseball or making illegal bets on any other sport.

While sports betting has been legalized in a majority of US states, online betting and retail sportsbooks remain illegal in California.

Cover photo: Jung Yeon-je / AFP

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