Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter charged with $16m fraud


Shohei Ohtanis ex-interpreter faces court after $16m fraud. (Interpreter Ippei Mizuhara, left, and Los Angeles Dodgers Shohei Ohtani, right, attend a press conference at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul ahead of the 2024 MLB Seoul Series. — AFP)
Shohei Ohtani’s ex-interpreter faces court after $16m fraud. (Interpreter Ippei Mizuhara, left, and Los Angeles Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani, right, attend a press conference at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul ahead of the 2024 MLB Seoul Series. — AFP)

Japanese baseball sensation Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, is facing federal bank fraud charges. Authorities allege Mizuhara stole over $16 million from Ohtani’s bank accounts to fuel his sports betting habit.

Prosecutors said Mizuhara, who has worked closely with Ohtani since his arrival in the US in 2018, gained access to Ohtani’s bank account and made unauthorised transfers. Ohtani is cooperating with the investigation.

Mizuhara may be jailed for up to 30 years if he is convicted. 

The Los Angeles Dodgers fired him last month after the scandal came to light. Ohtani, who recently signed a record contract with the Dodgers, left the Los Angeles Angels in December.

According to US Attorney Martin Estrada, Mizuhara’s role extended beyond interpretation; he acted as Ohtani’s de facto manager, gaining access to the star’s finances. Mizuhara allegedly abused this trust, diverting funds for his use and falsifying information to access Ohtani’s accounts.

“Due to the position of trust he occupied with Mr. Ohtani,” Mizuhara was able to “use and abuse” Ohtani’s trust and plundered the player’s bank account, Estrada said.

“Mr. Mizuhara did all this to feed his insatiable appetite for illegal sports betting,” Estrada said.

“I want to emphasise this point. Mr. Ohtani is considered a victim in this case. There is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Ohtani authorised over $16 million of transfers from his account to the bookmakers.”

Estrada also said, “Mr. Ohtani has cooperated fully and completely in this investigation. He’s not only spoken to investigators, he’s provided access to his digital devices, to his personal information, to ensure that justice was done.”

Reacting to his former interpreter’s fraud, Shohei Ohtani said, “I am very saddened and shocked someone whom I trusted has done this.”

“Ippei has been stealing money from my account and has been telling lies,” Ohtani said. “I never bet on sports or have willfully sent money to the bookmaker.”



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