Red Bull heir en­joy­ing life 5 years af­ter fa­tally mow­ing down cop

New Straits Times - - World -

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

AP PIC

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.

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