Sports | Mar 24

MLB Initiates Investigation Into Gambling Scandal

TOKYO, Mar 24 (News On Japan) - The sudden termination of Shohei Ohtani's exclusive interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, has led to his attorney accusing Mizuhara of "committing grand larceny" due to illegal sports gambling debts paid from Ohtani's bank account.

Mizuhara is alleged to have accrued at least $4.5 million (approximately 680 million yen) in debts by betting on American football, soccer, and other sports. MLB has begun an investigation to uncover the truth.

From MLB's Official Website: "Since the allegations involving Shohei Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhara came to our attention through reports, we have been gathering information. Today, our investigative division has officially started the procedure to look into this matter."

Mizuhara: "I had no savings and borrowed from friends and family," says an ESPN article

ESPN has revealed more details from an interview with Mizuhara conducted on the 20th Japan time.

From an ESPN Article: "I couldn't share this with Shohei. It was hard for me to make my ends meet. I was going paycheck to paycheck. Because I kind of had to keep up with his lifestyle. But at the same time, I didn't want to tell him this." (From Mizuhara's interview on March 20th Japan time).

While Mizuhara's annual salary as Ohtani's interpreter is reported to be between 45 million to 75 million yen, he had a $1 million debt (about 150 million yen) in 2021 and borrowed money from friends and family. Mizuhara has not been seen since the news of his firing broke, and his case has been widely reported in the US.

The FBI and the IRS have started investigations into Mizuhara's illegal gambling. IRS, similar to Japan's National Tax Agency, is probing gambling incomes as reported by Saturday Station, which spoke to Joshua Kimura, an attorney active in California, USA.

Joshua Kimura, Attorney in California: "The IRS mandates income declaration even from criminal activities like gambling or drug trafficking because criminals wouldn't naturally report income earned through illegal actions. The IRS is investigating incomes from gambling."

How long will the investigation take?

Joshua Kimura, Attorney in California: "This is a highly scrutinized case. Due to its high profile, the authorities want to take their time. They don't want to rush and make mistakes in the investigation. It's expected to be thorough and prolonged."

Source: ANN


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