Chakthip: Police trying hard to find Red Bull scion

In this 2012 file photo, Vorayuth Yoovidhya is escorted to the Thong Lor police station for interrogation, hours after a crash that killed a police officer. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Police cannot confirm whether they can bring to trial Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, the suspect in a hit-and-run case, on the charge of not helping a crash victim before the statute of limitations expire in 24 days, according to the police chief.

Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda said on Friday police were trying hard to determine the location of the Red Bull energy drink scion, who fled Thailand in April.

“It’s not easy to track him and we can’t say with absolute certainty which country he is in right now,” he said.

On rumours he is now in England, Pol Gen Chakthip said the Thai police had already ed their English counterparts but had yet to hear from them.

He also asked related agencies to check whether Mr Vorayuth had multiple nationalities or more than one passport.

“I insist the Royal Thai Police have closely coordinated with foreign prosecutors,” he said.

The police chief was apparently responding to a prosecutor’s comments on the previous day that because the police did not give them the name of the country where he currently resides in the request form.

Before dawn on Sept 3, 2012, a black Ferrari driven by Mr Vorayuth slammed into Pol Snr Sgt Maj Vichien Klanprasert, a policeman on a motorcycle, dragging his mangled body along Sukhumvit Road, before speeding away.

The police originally charged him with reckless driving causing death (10 years in jail and a fine up to 20,000 baht) and failing to help a crash victim (three months in jail or a fine not more than 5,000 baht). They later brought the speeding charge (a fine not more than 1,000 baht) but its one-year statute of limitations already expired.

The 15-year statute of limitations of the charge of reckless driving causing death runs out in 2027 while that of not helping a crash victim expires on Sept 3 this year. 

Mr Vorayuth had delayed hearing the charges seven times, citing various reasons from being abroad to being in the process of seeking justice from the National Legislative Assembly’s justice panel.

It was not until April 27 this year that the prosecutors finally charged him with reckless driving causing death and failing to help a crash victim.

The government already cancelled his passport after he flew out of Thailand on his private plane two days before he was due to face the charges.

A brother of Pol Snr Sgt Maj Vichien told Thai media in March 2016 that shortly after the crash, both sides settled on 3 million baht in damages from 8 million baht sought by the victim’s family. In exchange, the victim’s family signed a contract agreeing not to press charges against Mr Vorayuth. 

Mr Vorayuth is a son of Chalerm Yoovidhya, whose late father Chaleo founded the Red Bull energy drink business. Mr Charlerm founded the Siam Winery group, a business group of the Red Bull empire that makes the Spy Wine Cooler brand of ready-to-drink alcohol beverages and the Monsoon Valley wine range.

According to Isra News Agency’s data, Mr Vorayuth is a director of at least three companies: Cavallino Service Co Ltd, a car repairs service provider; Cavallino Motors Co Ltd, a Ferrari dealer; and Great Design and Lifestyle Co Ltd, a construction material wholesaler and retailer.

The three companies had total revenue of 914 million baht but booked losses of 6 million baht for 2015.

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