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Former interpreter reportedly stole $16 million from Ohtani

Former interpreter reportedly stole $16 million from Ohtani

Posted April. 13, 2024 07:42,   

Updated April. 13, 2024 07:42


New information has emerged indicating that Ippei Mizuhara, the former interpreter of Los Angeles Dodgers' superstar Shohei Ohtani, allegedly withdrew over $16 million (approximately 22 billion won) from Ohtani's account to settle debts stemming from illegal gambling activities. This amount exceeds the initially reported $4.5 million (approximately 6.2 billion won) cited in reports by ESPN and other sources, by more than threefold.

On Friday, American media outlets, including MLB.com, the official media of Major League Baseball (MLB), reported, “Ippei Mizuhara, the former translator of Shohei Ohtani, has been charged with bank fraud.” The indictment reveals that Mizuhara engaged in illegal gambling activities from September 2021 to January of the following year, during which he allegedly pilfered funds from Ohtani's savings account and funneled them to gamblers. Over this period, approximately 19,000 bets were purportedly placed, averaging around 25 bets per day. As Mizuhara incurred losses and amassed debt, he purportedly altered Ohtani's bank account contact details to his personal phone number and email address. Furthermore, he allegedly impersonated Ohtani during calls to the bank, facilitating unauthorized money transfers.

After numerous unsuccessful attempts to reach Mizuhara, an illegal gambler who had visited Ohtani's residence in person sent a message saying, "I’m watching Ohtani walking his dog. Since you're not responding, I'll inquire directly with Ohtani about how to reach you."

Mizuhara is slated to appear in federal court in Los Angeles tomorrow morning. If convicted of bank fraud, he could face a maximum penalty of 30 years' imprisonment.

U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said, "There is no evidence to suggest that Ohtani was aware of the transfer of over $16 million from his account to illegal gamblers. It's important to underscore that Ohtani is the victim in this case."

Heon-Jae Lee uni@donga.com