South Korean baseball pitcher An Ji-man is under investigation for allegedly helping to finance an illegal online gambling operation.
South Korean media reported that An was recently summoned for questioning by the district prosecutors’ office in Daegu, the nation’s fourth largest city and home to the Samsung Lions team for which An plays.
Prosecutors suspect An of providing funds to a friend who went on to launch an illegal betting site. An has rejected the allegations, claiming that he’d lent his friend money for the purposes of opening a restaurant.
The Lions, which are part of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), took An off their active roster on Monday, claiming that the pitcher was suffering from shoulder pain.
Online gambling is strictly against the rules in South Korea, which has led most South Korean-facing operators to base their operations in countries like Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. It’s unknown where An’s acquaintance based the site at the heart of the pitcher’s latest legal woes.
This is the second brush with illegal gambling in the past year for An, who was previously caught up in a scandal that saw multiple South Korean baseball stars accused of gambling in Macau casinos. South Korean law frowns on its citizens gambling abroad, although it tends to look the other way if the gambling is determined to be “just for momentary pleasure” rather than “habitual.”
The Samsung Lions suspended An last fall in the middle of their playoff run when news of the illegal gambling brouhaha first broke. While An has publicly apologized to the team’s fans for letting them down, his gambling case has yet to run its course. Seoul Metropolitan Police summoned An last month for further questioning.