Thailand charges ex-police chief over role in Red Bull heir’s 2012 hit-and-run case

Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya is accused of ploughing his sports car into a police officer's motorbike in 2012. PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK: Thailand’s attorney general has indicted a former police chief and seven others for helping Red Bull heir Vorayuth Yoovidhya evade criminal charges after a deadly hit-and-run in 2012.

Ex-police commissioner Somyot Poompanmoung was indicted for wrongful exercise or negligence of duty and for supporting officers to commit unlawful actions with an aim to help Vorayuth evade or receive less punishment, among other charges, according to a statement by the Office of the Attorney General on Tuesday.

A former deputy attorney general and two other police officers also face trial for similar charges, the agency said.

The move came after the country’s anti-corruption agency in September accused them of being involved in a 2020 decision by the prosecutors to drop charges against Vorayuth, which included speeding and hit-and-run. That decision sparked a public uproar, prompting Thailand’s then-prime minister to order fresh probes into how it had happened.

Vorayuth is accused of killing a police officer with his Ferrari in September 2012, a charge he denies.

He is a grandson of the late Chaleo Yoovidhya, who founded T.C. Pharmaceutical and invented the Thai energy drink Krating Daeng, or Thai for "red bull.” Chaleo also co-founded the international Red Bull GmbH brand with Austrian marketer Dietrich Mateschitz. The Yoovidhyas are the second-richest Thai family with a net worth of $27.4 billion, according to a Bloomberg report.

Vorayuth, who has been at large since fleeing Thailand in 2017, still faces one charge of reckless driving causing death, which will lapse in 2027. The controversy around his cases has raised questions about impunity for the rich and powerful in Thailand.

-- ©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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