Thailand: Red Bull heir wanted by Interpol

Vorayuth Yoovidhya, heir to the Red Bull brand and family fortune, is now officially wanted by Interpol and can be arrested in Interpol's 190 member countries. Yoovidhya is supposed to collide in his Ferrari with a police officer’s motorcycle, dragging him under its wheels and then speeding off, leaving the officer to die at the scene on an early morning in September 2012 in Thailand’s capital Bangkok

Being accused of speeding, drunk driving, hit-and-run and reckless driving, Vorayuth Yoovidhya has repeatedly failed to show for court hearings. While avoiding judgment on the 2012 death he has been able to continue a excessive jet-set lifestyle. In May his passport was cancelled, after fleeing the country on a private jet two days before a court date. Since then his presumed residence is in London/UK where he and his family lives at one of their four multi-million dollar homes.

But time is running out for a prosecution. Next Sunday, it is exactly five years ago, that the fatal incident occurred and five years is also the limitation period in Thailand for leaving the scene of an accident. The charge for speeding and drunk driving expired already earlier. Still, the last remaining charge — causing death by reckless driving — has another 10 years to run.

It remains to be seen if the grandson of Red Bull inventor Chaleo Yoovidhya continues to live his extravagant lifestyle with frequent stops in Thailand as well as attending key Red Bull racing events. Red Bull repeatedly declined to comment referring to the founder’s family by saying the matter is private.

Chaleo Yoovidhya, the son of poor Chinese immigrants and the grandfather of the accused Vorayuth Yoovidhya, founded in 1962 T.C. Pharma, a pharmaceutical company to import medical materials and products from Europe to Thailand. In 1975 he invented Kratingdaeng (Thai for Red Bull). The beverage was originally popular with day laborers, weary long-haul truckers and rickshaw drivers in Thailand. In 1982 Dietrich Mateschitz, an Austrian toothpaste salesman, discovered the drink during a sales trip to Thailand, approached the inventor and created in 1987 its Austria-based joint venture Red Bull GmbH to introduce a carbonated version in the signature slim can of Kratingdaeng/Red Bull to Europe.

When Chaleo died in 2012, Red Bull was selling 4.4 billion cans each year in 162 countries and the company’s founder was at the time the 205th richest person in the world.

Today, the Yoovidhya family owns 49% in a complex licensing agreement with T.C. Pharma and a complicated network of offshore accounts. Mateschitz owns the other 49% and Vorayuth’s father Chalerm Yoovidhya, the oldest of 11 siblings, holds the final 2%.

T.C. Pharma is the only producer of the Red Bull flavor around the world and, together with the Yoovidhya family, owns the Red Bull trademarks worldwide.

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