Red Bull heir faces arrest warrant for hit and run

Vorayuth Yoovidhya. Picture: AP
Vorayuth Yoovidhya. Picture: AP
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Thai prosecutors are to issue an arrest warrant for an heir of the Red Bull energy drink empire who failed to show up to hear charges against him in a fatal
hit-and-run case.

Vorayuth Yoovidhya, 28, is
accused of being behind the wheel of his Ferrari when it
collided with an on-duty policeman in the early hours of 3 September, 2012.

“Investigators will issue an
arrest warrant for the suspect tomorrow, and he can be arrested anywhere in Thailand,” said Reuchai Krairerk, a senior public prosecutor at the Bangkok South Criminal Court, yesterday.

Vorayuth faces charges of causing death through reckless driving and failing to stop and assist the victim.

Vorayuth, nicknamed “Boss”, left Thailand last Thursday for a business trip, said his lawyer, and was unable to travel back to hear the charges against him.

“He suddenly fell ill, which made it impossible for him to travel back today,” said lawyer Tanit Buakeaw.

He added that Vora­yuth planned to return to Thailand within three days and would
co-operate with prosecutors.

The Yoovidhyas – Thailand’s fourth-richest family – paid the victim’s family £62,000 after the accident, police said.

The case prompted a backlash in online forums, where people questioned the justice system and its leniency towards those with money and connections.

Some asked why Thais turned a blind eye to the practice of handing out a “funeral fee”, or hush money, in return for families agreeing to drop civil suits.

Vorayuth is the grandson of the late Chaleo Yoovidhya, who rose from poverty to become one of Thailand’s richest men.

Chaleo formulated an energy drink called Krathing Daeng, or Red Bull, and in 1987 he went into business with Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz, who helped to turn Red Bull into the world’s most popular energy drink.

Chaleo, who died in March 2012, left his heirs a 49 per cent stake in the drinks brand.