Red Bull heir enjoying life 5 years after fatally mowing down cop
BANGKOK: The Ferrari driver who allegedly slammed into a cop on a motorcycle, dragged him along the road and then sped away from the mangled body, took just hours to find as investigators followed a trail of brake fluid into the gated estate of one of Thailand’s richest families.
But the prosecution of Red Bull heir Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya has been delayed almost five years.
When Vorayuth, 31, has been called in to face authorities, he hasn’t shown up, claiming through his attorney that he’s sick or out of the country on business.
And while statutes of limitations run out on key charges this year, it’s widely assumed he’s hiding, possibly abroad, or quietly living locally, only going out in disguise. He isn’t.
Within weeks of the accident on Sept 3, 2012, Vorayuth was back to enjoying his family’s jetset life, largely associated with the Red Bull brand, an energy drink company co-founded by his grandfather.
He flies around the world on Red Bull jets, cheers their Formula One racing team from Red Bull’s VIP seats and keeps a black Porsche Carrera in London with a custom plate: B055 RBR — Boss Red Bull Racing.
And he’s not hard to find.
Last month, social media clues led reporters to Vorayuth in the sacred city of Luang Prabang, Laos, where he and his family enjoyed a US$1,000 (RM4,400)-anight resort, visited temples and lounged by the pool.
Critics say inaction in this case epitomises longstanding privilege for the wealthy class in the country. While Vorayuth’s case has been on hold since 2012, his carefree lifestyle has not.
More than 120 social media posts show him visiting at least nine countries since Sergeant Major Wichean Glanprasert’s death.
He’s cruised Monaco’s harbour, snowboarded Japan’s powder, and celebrated his birthday at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London. At the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Osaka, he posed wearing robes from Hogwarts School’s darkest dorm, Slytherin House.
His lifestyle — soaking in an Abu Dhabi pool, dining in Nice, France, holding a U$10,000 bicycle in Bangkok — is supported by his family’s billions.
Vorayuth’s grandfather, Chaleo Yoovidhya, was known as a modest man who grew up in poverty, the son of a duck seller.
Before Vorayuth was born, Chaleo partnered his company, T.C. Pharma, with Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz, investing US$500,000 each to carbonate and market a caffeinepowered syrupy energy drink popular in Thailand.
In 1987, Red Bull Energy Drink went international.
Forbes estimates Vorayuth’s father, Chalerm, to have a net worth of US$9.7 billion.
And Vorayuth’s legal situation is far from unique.
In 2010, a 16-year-old unlicensed daughter of a former military officer crashed her sedan into a van, killing nine people.
The teen, from a rich family, was given a two-year suspended sentence and had misunderstandings that postponed her community service until last year.
Her case, and others involving what the local press calls “Bangkok’s deadly rich kids”, are handled markedly different than most deadly car crashes, in which culprits are typically arrested, prosecuted and sentenced to jail.
Today, in his small apartment, Wichean’s brother, Pornanan, keeps a few photo albums of him.
He says Thailand runs on a “double standard”.
Last month, on Instagram, a friend posted a group shot — guys taking a snowboarding break at Japan’s majestic Annapuri ski resort.
“Ran into little bull @bossrbr lets catch up tonite dude” says a friend.
“Snow snow snow,” chimes in another.
“Wof wof,” says bossrbr. AP
Vorayuth ‘Boss’ Yoovidhya (left), whose grandfather co-founded energy drink company Red Bull, with his mother, Daranee, at the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix in November last year.