Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter fired after theft report

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  • By Mariko Oei
  • business reporter

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Ippei Mizuhara has been Shohei Ohtani’s constant companion since the baseball star began his tenure in America.

Baseball sensation Shohei Ohtani’s longtime interpreter Ippei Mizuhara has been fired by the Los Angeles Dodgers after being accused of theft related to illegal gambling.

According to ESPN, at least $4.5 million (£3.5 million) was transferred from Ohtani’s bank account to a bookmaker. Mr Ohtani is not accused of wrongdoing.

Mr. Mizuhara spoke to US Sports Network on Tuesday.

The team’s senior communications director told the BBC that they were gathering information and that they “can confirm that interpreter Ippei Mizuhara has been removed”.

Sports betting is legal in 38 US states but is illegal in California.

Major League Baseball has its own policy that prohibits “any player, umpire, or official or employee of the club or league” from placing bets on any baseball game and from placing bets with illegal bookmakers.

ESPN said it reviewed bank information showing Ohtani’s name on two $500,000 payments to a bookmaking operation run by Matthew Bowyer, one sent in September and the other in October.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Mr. Bowyer’s multimillion-dollar illegal sports betting scheme was investigated by the prosecution team, but he was not charged with any crime.

During his interview, Mr. Mizuhara reportedly said that he had asked the baseball star for help with his gambling debts.

“obviously, [Ohtani] I wasn’t happy with it and he said he would help me make sure I never did it again,” Mr. Mizuhara reportedly said.

“I want everyone to know that Shohei had no involvement in betting. I want people to know that I had no idea it was illegal. I learned my lesson the hard way. I will never play sports again. “Won’t bet.”

A spokesperson for Ohtani initially told ESPN that the former Los Angeles Angels star had transferred the money to cover his interpreter’s gambling debts, but has since denied the account.

Mr Mizuhara himself has reportedly changed his story, now saying Ohtani did not know about the gambling debt and did not transfer the money.

The LA Times reports that Ohtani’s lawyers have accused his interpreter of “large-scale theft.”

A statement from West Hollywood law firm Burke Brettler reportedly said, “While responding to recent media inquiries, we learned that Shohei has been the victim of a major theft, and we are turning the matter over to the authorities. ” The BBC has contacted the law firm for confirmation.

Mr. Mizuhara’s ability to interpret Ohtani’s comments into colloquial English has been widely praised in Japan.

Additional reporting by Mattia Bubalo

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