Skip to main content

Police to issue arrest warrant for Red Bull heir Vorayuth Yoovidhaya

By Peter Shadbolt, CNN
updated 12:23 AM EDT, Tue September 3, 2013
Thai police inspect a Ferrari allegedly belonging to Vorayuth Yoovidhya, grandson of the creator of Red Bull energy drink, September 3, 2012.
Thai police inspect a Ferrari allegedly belonging to Vorayuth Yoovidhya, grandson of the creator of Red Bull energy drink, September 3, 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Thai prosecutors poised to issue an arrest warrant for Vorayuth Yoovidhaya
  • Red Bull heir accused of reckless driving in hit-and-run accident involving a policeman
  • Lawyers say Yoovidhaya is currently in Singapore receiving medical treatment
  • The case sparked outrage last year with online forums taking aim at the Thai justice system

(CNN) -- Thai prosecutors were poised to issue an arrest warrant Tuesday for the grandson of the creator of the Red Bull energy drink who failed to appear in court this week over a fatal hit-and-run case that sparked nationwide anger.

Prosecutors allege Vorayuth Yoovidhaya, 28, was behind the wheel of his Ferrari on September 3, 2012, when it collided with an on-duty policeman on a motorbike in downtown Bangkok.

He is charged with reckless driving causing death, speeding and failing to stop following an accident.

Thai police told CNN that Yoovidhaya's lawyer had informed prosecutors his client was in Singapore receiving medical treatment for a bout of influenza he contracted while on a business trip and would not be in Thailand for his scheduled court hearing.

Thai prosecutor Ruecha Krairiksh said his no-show meant that the speeding charges would lapse but the more serious charges of reckless driving and failing to stop would still apply.

Red Bull heir arrested in Thailand

The reckless driving charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail under Thai law.

"We can't indict him because the suspect is not present. This means the statute of limitations for speeding will expire because the incident occurred on September 3, 2012," Mr Ruesha told The Nation newspaper.

He said he would ask the court to withhold bail because of his failure to present himself in court and for postponing meetings with prosecutors.

His case provoked outrage in Thailand last year with online forums denouncing the Thai justice system for its perceived leniency towards defendants with money and connections.

An alleged attempt to cover up the crime -- which involved police arresting a suspect who pretended to be driving his Ferrari at the time of the incident -- led to the suspension of a police officer and sparked even more outrage.

We can't indict him because the suspect is not present
Ruecha Krairiksh

Yoovidhaya also allegedly paid the family of the victim Thai baht 3 million ($97,000) in a bid to stall a civil lawsuit, police said.

The defendant is the grandson of the Chaleo Yoovidhya who formulated an energy drink called Krathing Daeng, or Red Bull, that first became popular with Thai workmen. He teamed up with Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz in 1987 and together they built an international drinks brand.

According to Forbes magazine, the Yoovidhya empire is worth $7.8 billion, making them the fourth richest family in Thailand.

Chaleo died in March 2012, leaving his heirs a vast estate based on his 49% stake in the iconic drinks brand, as well as interests in hospitals, real estate and sports teams.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:04 PM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
Obama's remarks that he didn't yet have a strategy for ISIS in Syria is widely criticized.
updated 8:17 PM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
A few miles south of the town of Starobeshevo in eastern Ukraine, a group of men in uniform is slumped under a tree.
updated 3:46 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Beijing says only candidates approved by a nominating committee can run for Hong Kong's chief executive, prompting criticism that it stifles democracy.
updated 4:23 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
He should be toddling around a playground. Instead, his tiny hands grip an AK-47.
updated 12:52 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
CNN's Will Ripley travels to North Korea, visiting an international wrestling festival and a slide-filled water park.
updated 5:20 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Our whole solar system appears to be inside a searing gas bubble, scientists say.
updated 8:23 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
updated 8:02 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
One journalist murdered, another still being held by ISIS -- a ransom negotiator talks to CNN about trying to get a hostage home alive.
updated 2:35 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
South Africa Music Legends stamps
Artist Hendrik Gericke puts a spotlight on iconic performers from South Africa in these incredible monochrome illustrations.
updated 5:46 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT