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 3:46 PM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
ISIS has published a video titled "A second message to America," showing the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff.
updated 9:35 PM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Three Americans detained in North Korea spoke out about their conditions and pleaded for U.S. help in interviews with CNN.
Hundreds of jihadis in Syria are from abroad -- which countries have the biggest problem?
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
CNN attends a funeral where mourners keep their distance.
updated 5:13 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Libyan militia members have apparently turned the abandoned U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, into a water park.
updated 7:26 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 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 9:25 PM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Beijing says only candidates approved by a nominating committee can run for Hong Kong's chief executive, prompting criticism.
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 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 8:21 AM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
In a major breach of privacy, a hacker leaked a series of pictures allegedly showing Jennifer Lawrence and other female celebrities in the nude.
Instead of weaving garments sold in the West, children should be in school
According to the International Labour Organization, there are 168 million child laborers around the world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT