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Thailand Drops All Charges Against Red Bull Heir

Vorayuth Yoovidhya Red Bull Heir Thailand

Proving again that if you’re rich enough in Thailand, you can literally get away with murder, prosecutors have dropped the last criminal charge remaining against the heir to the Red Bull energy drink empire in the death of a police officer in 2012.

CNN reported Thursday night that the Office of the Attorney General last month decided not to indict Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya for reckless driving that killed Thonglor motorcycle officer Pol. Sgt. Major Wichien Klanprasert on Sept. 3, 2012.

Reuters confirmed the report early today early today.

No reason for the decision was cited in the American news agency’s report, only quoting Pol. Col. Sampan Luangsajjakul saying that the Royal Thai Police was informed by the OAG spokesman on June 12 about the decision to drop all charges. Police then revoked the three-year-old warrant for his arrest.

Thonglor police sent a letter to Vorayuth’s Bangkok address informing him of the OAG decision, CNN reported, saying that national police chief Pol. Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda “has not objected to the decision”.

The timing of the decision mentioned in the letter – June 12 – add yet another bizarre twist to the preposterous eight-year saga involving the son of Thailand’s second-richest man, as an OAG on June 27 had told reporters that prosecutors had that day urged police to step up efforts to bring Vorayuth back to Thailand for prosecution.

If CNN’s report is to be believed, then the OAG spokesman was just blowing smoke for the cameras, as the decision had been made to drop the charges against Vorayuth two weeks earlier.

It would, of course, not be the first time authorities went out of their way to help the heir to a US$20 billion fortune.

Vorayuth fled Thailand in 2017 two days before having to acknowledge charges of reckless driving causing death, leaving the scene of an accident and speeding. The statute of limitations on the speeding charge expired after a year. The hit-and-run charge expired in June 2017. The only remaining charge was for reckless driving, which didn’t expire until 2027.

Then 28, Vorayuth was behind the wheel of a his gray-bronze Ferrari, racing down Sukhumvit Soi 49 at 177 kilometers per hour (110 mph) around 5 a.m. that fateful Monday when the race car hit the back end of Wichien’s motorcycle, dragging the officer down the street before escaping into the night.

Investigators followed leaking oil from the car back to the Yoovidhya mansion where they found the smashed car. When arrested, Vorayuth admitted hitting the officer, but claimed Wichien had cut him off. He was released on 500,000-baht bail.

There began a tale of corruption and incompetence that would allow “Boss” to escape jail and enraged a Thai public, proving again to the poor and working class that there are two sets of laws in Thailand: One for them and a more-lenient set for the elite.

The investigation was left in the incapable hands of Thonglor police which, the National Anti-Corruption Commisison said in June, engaged in a concerted effort to stall the investigation, bury the charges and even try to frame someone else for the crime.

The alleged frame job saw Thonglor cops arrest another suspect who pretended to be driving his Ferrari at the time of the crash. When the plot was exposed, a Thonglor officer was suspended.

“Boss” later allegedly tried to buy off the dead officer’s family for 3 million baht in return for not filing a civil wrongful-death lawsuit.

It would not be until April 2017 that charges were formally filed.

There began a tale of corruption and incompetence that would allow “Boss” to escape jail and enraged a Thai public, proving again to the poor and working class that there are two sets of laws in Thailand: One for them and a more-lenient set for the elite.

The NACC on June 25 found seven Thonglor and Metropolitan Police Division officers guilty of only mild dereliction of duty for their lenient handling the case, despite the commission’s determination there was an intentional effort to spare Vorayuth the inconvenience of prosecution and prison.

All were to receive minor disciplinary action or be placed on probation, but Royal Thai Police officials said that disciplinary action had been taken in March, even before the NACC’s ruling.

Thai police also had filed a “red notice” with Interpol in August 2017, but the international arrest warrant had disappeared from the global law-enforcement agency’s website by March 2018.

As far as the Royal Thai Police is concerned, the case is closed.

Vorayuth is the grandson of Chaleo Yoovidhya, an antibiotics salesman who formulated the “Krathing Daeng”, or Red Bull, drink first popular with Thai laborers. It wasn’t until Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz discovered the caffeine-loaded drink in 1987 that a partnership was formed that would create the international drinks brand.

The Yoovidhya family’s fortune was estimated at $13.1 billion by Forbes in 2017 and Vorayuth’s father, Chalerm, is Thailand’s second-richest person with a fortune of $20.2 billion.

Following his escape from Thailand, “Boos” used his private jet to live lavishly around the world, despite Thailand revoking his passport. He’s been seen at Formula One races (where Red Bull is a leading team), snowboarding in Japan, cruising in Venice and this year has been photographed outside a London home, at a luxury box in a football stadium and at a number of family parties in the U.K. celebrating his birthday.

Now that he’s free as a bird, the question is how many of his Thai enablers will be on the VIP list at his next Bangkok party.