Fugitive Red Bull heir ditches jet, leaves Singapore

Worayuth Yoovidhya, seen in a 2012 file photo, faces charges of speeding, hit-and-run and reckless driving causing death over an incident in 2012.
Worayuth Yoovidhya, seen in a 2012 file photo, faces charges of speeding, hit-and-run and reckless driving causing death over an incident in 2012.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

BANGKOK • An heir to the Red Bull fortune, who is wanted in Thailand over a deadly hit-and-run, has left Singapore after abandoning his private jet and disappeared, Thai police said yesterday.

Worayuth Yoovidhya left Thailand for Singapore on April 25, two days before he had been ordered to report to prosecutors to be formally charged in court, police said.

He faces charges of speeding, hit-and-run and reckless driving causing death over an incident in 2012, when he allegedly crashed his Ferrari into a policeman on a motorcycle in Bangkok and fled the scene, dragging the officer's body for several dozen metres with his car.

 
 

It was the eighth time he had missed a summons since legal proceedings against him began last year. The case is being closely watched in Thailand, where it has fuelled complaints that the justice system favours the rich and famous, allowing

them to break the law with impunity.

Police said Worayuth had travelled to Singapore on his private jet and stayed there for two days.

"Worayuth left Singapore on April 27. The private jet he arrived in is still there," said senior police official Apichat Suriboonya, who heads Thailand's Interpol bureau. "We have no further details." He added that his team was working with Singapore police to determine where Worayuth had gone.

Singapore police confirmed he had left the city state and said they would do what they could to help their Thai colleagues.

A Thai court issued an arrest warrant for Worayuth last Friday, and police said they had asked the Foreign Ministry to revoke his passport. The ministry said it would do so as quickly as possible.

"Having his passport revoked will pressure Worayuth to travel back to Thailand as no country would allow him to enter without it," said senior police official Sarawut Detsri.

Worayuth is a grandson of the late Chaleo Yoovidhya, creator of the Krating Daeng, or Red Bull, energy drink. Mr Chaleo, 88, was listed as the third-richest person in Thailand at the time of his death in 2012, with an estimated net worth of US$5 billion (S$7 billion), according to Forbes magazine.

Worayuth has spent much of the past five years abroad, including in London, where his family owns a home, and Singapore, according to social media posts. He had previously cited work commitments abroad as a reason for not showing up in court.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2017, with the headline 'Fugitive Red Bull heir ditches jet, leaves S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe