BANGKOK – Thai police said that they were trying to locate Vorayuth YoovidhyaThai (32), known as ‘Red Bull heir,’ who reportedly has fled to Singapore on his private jet on 25 April.
On Wednesday (3 May) Thai police said that authorities issued an arrest warrant for Vorayuth after he failed to make a final deadline to meet prosecutors.
Nearly five years ago, in 2012, the billionaire heir of Red Bull energy drink, sped off after hitting and killing a policeman with his Ferrari in downtown Bangkok. After years of dodging prosecutors, only days before a warrant was issued for him over the incident, Vorayuth fled out of the country.
Thai Colonel Krissana Pattanacharoen, told AFP, “First we have to locate him and then we have to go from there. If we can’t locate him then we can’t do the next step.”
Thai immigration officers confirmed to local media that Vorayuth has left for Singapore on his private jet on April 25. Why he was not detained then is unclear.
Thailand and Singapore do not have an extradition treaty, but Thai police are seeking to confirm whether he is still in Singapore.
“We have contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to see if it’s possible to revoke his passport,” Colonel Pattanacharoen said.
Thai Ministry spokesperson, Busadee Santipitaks, said, “We have not received any formal communication, but stand ready to cooperate with law enforcement agencies.”
The Straits Times reported on 4 May that the Singapore Police Force (SPF) has clarified that Vorayuth is not in Singapore. SPF further said, “The Singapore Police Force will provide the necessary assistance and support to the Thai authorities in accordance with our laws,”
A spokesman for Singapore’s Attorney-General’s Chambers on Thursday also told Straits Times that AGC has not received any request from its Thai counterparts regarding Vorayuth.
“We will provide the necessary assistance and support to the Thai authorities in accordance with our laws,” said the spokesman.
Several charges against Vorayuth have expired during the time lapse between the hit and run incident and his arrest warrant.
Vorayuth, who is widely known as ‘Boss’, allegedly fled the scene of the hit and run and driven to his nearby house in Thong Lor. Police had followed him to his house and demanded his surrender.
He had refused and remained inside the house until a senior police with an arrest warrant had arrived at his house.
His family agreed afterwards to hand him in to police. Vorayuth was charged with reckless driving and causing a death of a policeman. However, he then walked free on bail. Widespread perceptions broke out that the heir of the multi-billion baht fortune was being treated easily by authorities.
The Attorney-General (AG) spokesperson Prayut said the AG finally had indicted him in April 2016 but he had always failed to turn up in court, with his lawyer requesting postponements many times on the grounds that the suspect was abroad or was suffering from illness.
But media reports had shown that Vorayuth has not kept the low profile that might be expected from a suspect in the killing of a policemen. He has continued to lead a lavish, jet-setting lifestyle with frequent stops in the kingdom, while he still faced up to 10 years in prison for reckless driving that resulted in death. This offence will be valid until 2027.
On 5 April 2016 the Nation reported that in relation to alleged flaws in the inquiry regarding the 2012 hit-and-run incident, the acting metropolitan police chief Lt-General Sanit Mahathaworn said a fact-finding report had found that several steps in the investigation were improperly conducted. The report suggested the officers – including police at the levels of commander and superintendent – may have delayed the investigation on behalf of the suspect.
Vorayuth’s legal team had also used delaying tactics by requesting the consideration of the Justice and Police Affairs committee of the National Legislation Assembly (NLA), which forced the AG to wait for the NLA’s committee investigation, Prayut the AG spokesperson said.
Vorayuth’s clan has inherited the billion fortune built up by his grandfather Chaleo Yoovidhya, joint founder of the Red Bull brand with Dietrich Mateschitz from Austria in the 1980s.
According to Bloomberg, Chaleo left the control of more than 50 percent of the energy drink empire and some $22 billion wealth to his family when he died in March 2012.