Allegations around Dodger Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter spur MLB investigation amid IRS probe. Here’s the latest

Major League Baseball and the Internal Revenue Service are investigating amid allegations surrounding Los Angeles Dodgers two-way star Shohei Ohtani and his longtime interpreter Ippei Mizuhara.

The investigations are underway just two days after Mizuhara, a longtime interpreter for the Japanese baseball superstar, was fired after the player’s lawyers accused him of “massive theft” of millions of dollars and placing bets with a bookmaker under federal investigation, according to ESPN and the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the story.

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

The IRS Criminal Investigation Los Angeles Field Office is investigating both Mizuhara and Mathew Bowyer, IRS spokesperson Scott Villiard told CNN on Friday. Bowyer is a California resident whose bankruptcy court documents show had gambling debts of $425,000 more than a decade ago. Diane Bass, an attorney for Bowyer, told CNN her client “never had any contact with Mr. Ohtani.”

Ohtani’s attorneys have not detailed how they believe the funds were stolen, fueling questions about the scandal that emerged as Ohtani made his much-anticipated debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters Ohtani will address the media on Monday amid the scandal.

The saga began with reporters asking questions about alleged wire transfers from Ohtani’s bank account and culminated in Mizuhara’s firing. Here’s how the scandal unfolded:

Mizuhara told ESPN in a Tuesday interview arranged by Ohtani’s representative that Ohtani had no involvement in his betting and that Mizuhara asked the player last year to pay off his gambling debt, ESPN reported.

But after the interview, Ohtani’s spokesperson “disavowed” Mizuhara’s account, then released a statement saying Ohtani had been the victim of theft.

On the same day, Mizuhara was seen smiling in the LA dugout and talking to Ohtani before translating for the star in the team’s 5-2 win over the San Diego Padres in the MLB season-opening game in Seoul, South Korea, on Wednesday.

Later on Wednesday, Mizuhara was fired as Ohtani’s interpreter. The pair had been working together since 2013.

After learning about the allegations against Ohtani and Mizuhara, MLB announced it would be pursuing an investigation on Friday. The IRS also confirmed it was investigating the translator.

• In an interview with CNN on Saturday, an attorney for Bowyer, the former bookmaker under investigation in connection to the controversy, said Bowyer “never met” or had “any direct contact” with Ohtani.

Former bookmaker ‘only did business’ with interpreter, attorney says

Bowyer’s attorney, Bass, told CNN in an interview Saturday that the only person the former bookmaker “did business” with was Mizuhara.

“Mathew Bowyer never spoke with or emailed with or texted with or had any contact whatsoever with Shohei Ohtani,” Bass told CNN.

Bowyer met Mizuhara after a Padres game in San Diego in 2022, according to Bass.

Bass told CNN she does not know how often Mizuhara placed bets or how much he bet, but said Bowyer told her that Mizuhara placed bets regularly on “primarily soccer, occasionally football and basketball, but it was never baseball.”

Mizuhara told ESPN on Tuesday, “I never bet on baseball…That’s 100 percent. I knew that rule…We have a meeting about that in spring training.”

Mizuhara’s gambling “got out of hand at a certain point,” but “he was making regular payments for a significant amount of time,” Bass said.

Asked if the payments were coming from Mizuhara’s or Ohtani’s account, Bass replied, “I honestly don’t know how many transfers came from which account(s), [or] whether it was more than one account. I don’t have access to that information,” she told CNN.

When discussing Ohtani’s name on “one of the wire transfers to Bowyer’s organization to cover a bet,” Bass said, “as far as Mr. Bowyer understood, the bet was from Ippei, or it was being covered by Mr. Ohtani for Ippei.”

CNN has sought comment from Mizuhara and Ohtani’s agent.

Bass emphasized that while Bowyer is under federal investigation, he has not been charged with a crime. She said Bowyer stopped his bookmaking operation in October 2023 when “feds showed up at his house.”

$4.5 million transferred from Ohtani’s accounts, ESPN reports

ESPN’s Tisha Thompson, citing unnamed sources, said on CNN’s “The Lead” Wednesday at least $4.5 million was withdrawn via wire transfer from Ohtani’s bank accounts, though it is unclear who initiated the transfers.

Thompson also reports sources told her Mizuhara’s sports betting dates back as early as 2021, when Ohtani was playing for the Los Angeles Angels.

When reached for comment, the Angels referred all questions to the Dodgers and Shohei’s representatives.

Ohtani played his last game with the Angels last year before signing a record-breaking 10-year, $700 million contract with the Dodgers.

The Dodgers confirmed Mizuhara’s firing and said they are “aware of media reports and are gathering information.” The team added it had no further comment.

Shifting statements

As news of Mizuhara’s firing and alleged actions unfolded, both the interpreter and Ohtani’s representatives have shifted their statements given to ESPN reporters – first saying the star player was aware of his translator’s gambling debt and later that he had no knowledge or involvement.

ESPN’s Thompson said the interpreter and Ohtani’s representatives did “a big 180” in what they were telling her.

At first, Ohtani’s spokesperson told ESPN the player had transferred money to help pay off Mizuhara’s gambling debts, the outlet reported. In a Tuesday interview with ESPN, the translator said Ohtani was unhappy with the situation but agreed to pay the debt.

Mizuhara also said that he never bet on MLB games and denied Ohtani had any involvement.

Then on Wednesday, Ohtani’s law firm, Berk Brettler LLP, released a statement saying, “In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft and we are turning the matter over to the authorities.”

That same day, Mizuhara admitted lying about Ohtani being aware of his debts, Thompson said. He walked back much of his initial story, saying instead that Ohtani had no knowledge of the interpreter’s debts and had made no payments, ESPN reported.

Mizuhara apologized to the team after the Dodgers’ game in Seoul Wednesday, according to ESPN, citing an unnamed Dodgers official.

“I’ve been told (Mizuhara) says something to the effect of ‘I’m sorry. I apologize. I have a gambling problem,’” Thompson said on ESPN.

Ohtani and Mizuhara first worked together from 2013 to 2017 when Mizuhara served as a translator for the Nippon-Ham Fighters, Ohtani’s team with Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League, according to When Ohtani joined the Los Angeles Angels in 2018, he asked Mizuhara to join him as his translator in the rookie season, and Mizuhara eventually followed the star to the Dodgers.

CNN’s Jacob Lev, Cheri Mossburg, David Close, Jill Martin and Nick Watt contributed to this report.

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