BANGKOK • The maker of energy drink giant Red Bull has distanced itself from its Thai heir following public outrage after police dropped charges against the billionaire scion in a fatal hit-and-run case.
Mr Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, the grandson of Mr Chaleo Yoovidhya – who co-founded Red Bull – and one of the heirs to the family’s business, was accused of killing a police officer in 2012 when he crashed his Ferrari in Bangkok’s most exclusive neighbourhood.
An arrest warrant came five years later, but by then he had fled in a private jet to Singapore.
Last Friday, police confirmed the remaining charges against him had been dropped, including reckless driving causing death.
The decision stirred outrage among the Thai public over the culture of impunity enjoyed by the kingdom’s rich, with the hashtags #BossRedBull and #BoycottRedBull trending on Twitter in both English and Thai over the weekend.
Late on Saturday, TCP Group – the Thai parent company of the energy drink giant – released a statement on the “misunderstanding” over Mr Vorayuth’s relationship with the company.
He “has never assumed any role in the management and daily operations of TCP Group, was never a shareholder, nor has he held any executive position within TCP Group”, the statement said.
It said the case is Mr Vorayuth’s “personal affair”.
Before the arrest warrant was issued in 2017, Mr Vorayuth continued to lead a lavish, jet-setting lifestyle, making public appearances at Red Bull-sponsored events.
A family employee initially took the blame in the case before media scrutiny forced the police to review their investigations.
The police said last Friday that they had received a letter last month from the Attorney-General’s office with its decision to drop the charges, declining to provide a reason.
An immigration spokesman told Agence France-Presse that Mr Vorayuth’s name has been off the blacklist since July 14 at the request of the police, and his last recorded departure was in April 2017.