Thai police struggle to locate wanted billionaire Red Bull heir who flew to Singapore in private jet
Although Singapore has no official extradition agreement with Thailand, Interpol officials said police informally can arrange through other means to apprehend him there
Thai police said Wednesday they were trying to locate Red Bull heir Vorayuth Yoovidhya who reportedly fled to Singapore on his private jet days before a warrant was issued for him over a fatal hit-and-run in 2012.
After years of dodging prosecutors, 32-year-old billionaire Vorayuth has become a poster child for the impunity enjoyed by elites in starkly unequal Thailand.
Authorities finally issued an arrest warrant for the scion last week after he failed to make a final deadline to meet prosecutors - five years after he sped off after mowing down and killing a policeman with his Ferrari in downtown Bangkok.
But Vorayuth, known by his nickname “Boss”, slipped out of the country just days before the warrant was issued, according to police.
Watch: Red Bull heir’s jet-setting lifestyle
“First we have to locate him and then we have to go from there. If we can’t locate him then we can’t do the next step,” deputy national police spokesman Colonel Krissana Pattanacharoen said.
Immigration officers told local media Vorayuth left for Singapore on his private jet on April 25.
Police are seeking to confirm whether he is still there. Although Singapore has no official extradition agreement with Thailand, Interpol officials said police informally can arrange through other means to apprehend him there.
Krissana said investigators were seeking to have his Thai passport revoked.
“We have contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to see if it’s possible to revoke his passport,” he said.
Ministry spokeswoman Busadee Santipitaks said: “We have not received any formal communication but stand ready to cooperate with law enforcement agencies.”
Several charges against Vorayuth have expired during the lapse between the car crash and his arrest warrant, a period that saw the heir continue to lead a lavish, jet-setting lifestyle with frequent stops in the kingdom.
When approached a few weeks ago outside a family-owned home in London, Vorayuth refused to comment. Earlier this year Associated Press watched him and his family enjoying a $1,000-a-night vacation in Laos, and saw social media postings of him snowboarding in Japan, attending Grand Prix races with Red Bull and visiting beach resorts in Southeast Asia.
All that time he’s been repeatedly telling prosecutors, through his attorney, that he’s sick or out of the country on business when called in to face charges.
But he still faces up to 10 years in prison for reckless driving that resulted in death, an offence that will be valid until 2027.
Vorayuth’s billionaire clan has inherited the fortune built up by his grandfather Chaleo Yoovidhya, who co-founded the Red Bull brand with Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz in the 1980s.
Chaleo passed away in March 2012, leaving his family some $22 billion and control of more than 50 per cent of the energy drink empire, according to Bloomberg.
Agence France-Presse, Associated Press