Thai police have dropped all charges against Vorayuth Yoovidhya, heir to the Red Bull empire, concerning a crash in 2012 that resulted in the death of an off-duty police officer in Bangkok.
Mr. Yoovidhya was driving a Ferrari in the early hours of September 3rd, 2012, when he hit a motorbike and fled the scene.
An off-duty police officer, Sgt Maj Wichien Klanprasert, responded to a robbery call when the Ferrari hit his motorcycle. He later died from his injuries.
Leaked oil at the collision scene led police to a mansion where they discovered a badly damaged Ferrari and Mr. Yoovidhya. He admitted to hitting the bike but claimed it had cut in front of him while driving.
Police charged him with drunk driving, committing a hit and run, and negligent death. However, he was released on a bail of 500,000 baht.
In 2012, many people were outraged with the leniency shown toward Mr. Yoovidhya, whose family’s wealth is estimated at USD13.1 billion (415 billion Thai baht).
Reports at the time detailed an alleged attempt to cover up the incident with police arresting another suspect who pretended he was the Ferrari driver at the time. This led to the suspension of one of the officers involved in the case.
Additionally, Mr. Yoovidhya’s family paid the victim’s family 3 million baht in an attempt to dismiss the charges against the Red Bull heir.
Following eight legal summons – all of which were skipped by Mr. Yoovidhya – authorities finally issued an arrest warrant in 2017.
However, a letter sent by Thonglor Police to the home of Mr. Yoovidhya earlier this month has acquitted him of all charges and revoked the arrest warrant. The letter simply states:
“Office of the Attorney General have decided to acquit Mr. Vorayuth Voovidhya on all charges.”
It remains unclear why the charges have been dropped. However, the decision will further fuel criticism that Thailand’s elite enjoys special privileges when dealing with authorities.