Shohei Ohtani Unable To Answer Lingering Questions About Ippei Mizuhara Investigation

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Nearly one week passed from the time Ippei Mizuhara’s illegal gambling was made public to when Shohei Ohtani publicly commented on the matter involving his former interpreter.

The Los Angeles Dodgers fired Mizuhara on Opening Day in South Korea, but Ohtani did not speak prior to or after the finale of the Seoul Series.

He instead read a statement in Japanese, which was translated by Will Ireton, during a press conference on Monday. Ohtani emphatically stated he’s never bet on baseball or any other sports, and he accused Mizuhara of theft.

But it still left key questions unanswered by Ohtani: was he aware Mizuhara had access to his bank account and how millions of dollars were stolen without being noticed until recently.

According to Dylan Hernández of the L.A. Times, Ohtani said he could not provide any further details due to an investigation being underway:

“I said all I could say at this point,” Ohtani said in Japanese.

“It’s under investigation,” Ohtani said, “so I can’t say anything.”

Ohtani’s representatives have made it clear they reported Mizuhara to legal authorities, but they have repeatedly declined to reveal which agency was notified. That was another detail Ohtani also did not provide:

Ohtani said he knew who was investigating the alleged theft — “Of course,” he said — but declined to identify the entity.

Although Mizuhara’s official role with the Los Angeles Angels and Dodgers was working as Ohtani’s interpreter, his responsibilities and their friendship extended well beyond that.

Thus, it’s certainly reasonable that Mizuhara would have some sort of access to Ohtani’s bank account, which purportedly made wire transfers to Southern California bookmaker Mathew Bowyer. An Ohtani spokesperson and Mizuhara initially claimed the two-way superstar was aware of the payments and agreed to make them in order to clear his friend’s gambling debt.

Then amid strong implications that Mizuhara manipulated lines of communication, Ohtani’s camp said he had not authorized the payments nor was he aware of them. Mizuhara also changed his stance and corroborated that explanation, but has denied ever misleading Ohtani while interpreting.

Rob Manfred comments on Shohei Ohtani investigation

The Internal Revenue Service has confirmed their investigation into Mizuhara, and so too has MLB. Commissioner Rob Manfred stressed the importance of maintaining the integrity of the sport and expressed a hope for a quick investigation process by the league.

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