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MLB launches investigation into gambling allegations surrounding Shohei Ohtani and his former interpreter

Days after lawyers accused Shohei Ohtani's longtime interpreter Ippei Mizuhara of "massive theft" to pay off gambling debts, Major League Baseball has announced that they are launching their own formal investigation into allegations surrounding the Dodgers star player. 

"Major League Baseball has been gathering information since we learned about the allegations involving Shohei Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhari from the news media. Earlier today, our Department of Investigations (DOI) began their formal process investigating the matter," said the statement from MLB. 

The exact circumstances surrounding the course of their investigation remain unclear, though ESPN reports that they will likely request interviews from all of the people involved in the allegations.

Chicago White Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers
Shohei Ohtani (right) and Ippei Mizuhara (left) during Spring Training on Feb. 27 in Glendale, Arizona.  Christian Petersen / Getty Images

The United States Attorney's Office in Los Angeles is also investigating the allegations They have declined to comment on the matter.

Mizuhara, who was fired by the Dodgers on Wednesday, was accused of stealing millions of dollars from Ohtani to pay an illegal bookmaker named Matthew Bowyer, who is currently being investigated by federal prosecutors. The news was first reported by The Los Angeles Times. 

ESPN's Tisha Thompson, who interviewed Mizuhara before the news broke, reported that at least $4.5 million was transferred from Ohtani's personal bank account to the bookmaking operation. 

"Initially, a spokesman for Ohtani told ESPN the slugger had transferred the funds to cover Mizuhara's gambling debt. The spokesman presented Mizuhara to ESPN for a 90-minute interview Tuesday night, during which Mizuhara laid out his account in great detail," Thompson wrote. "However, as ESPN prepared to publish the story Wednesday, the spokesman disavowed Mizuhara's account and said Ohtani's lawyers would issue a statement."

Ohtani has not yet commented on the situation, and was unavailable for interview following the Dodgers most recent game in Seoul, South Korea on Thursday, a 15-11 loss to the San Diego Padres. 

Mizuhara has worked as Ohtani's interpreter since 2017, when he was posted by the Nippon Professional Baseball League's Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters to sign with an MLB team. His relationship with the two-way star has been well documented during Ohtani's tenure with the Angels, with whom he played for six seasons before signing a 10-year, $700 million mega-deal with the Dodgers. 

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