BANGKOK — Interpol issued a “Red Notice” last week informing member countries that Thailand sought the arrest of a Thai heir to the Red Bull energy drink fortune involved in a 2012 traffic accident that killed a police officer, Thai police said Monday.
Police Deputy Spokesman Col. Kissana Phathanacharoen told The Associated Press that the France-based police cooperation agency issued the notice last Wednesday. He said Thai police are contacting the 194 members of Interpol to ask them to provide information about the whereabouts of the 38-year-old Vorayuth Yoovidhya, who is better known by the nickname “Boss.”
A Red Notice is a request to police forces around the world “to locate and provisionally arrest an individual, pending extradition.” Some are made public but others are not in some circumstances. Interpol routinely declines to comment on individual cases on privacy grounds.
Vorayuth drove his Ferrari into the police officer’s motorcycle on a Bangkok street in the early morning hours of Sept. 3, 2012, killing the officer. He avoided court appearances for several years and continued to live a jet-set life before fleeing abroad following the issue of an initial arrest warrant in 2017.
Vorayuth has not commented publicly on the recent developments, and his current whereabouts are unknown.
Police announced in July that prosecutors had dropped a charge of reckless driving causing death after several other charges had expired under the statute of limitations. A previous Red Notice consequently was also dropped.
A public uproar and investigation led the reinstatement of the charges of reckless driving causing death and use of a narcotic substance.
Suspicion was widespread that Vorayuth’s family used its money and influence to induce the dropping of charges, lending credence to the belief that Thailand’s rich and well-connected have impunity from justice.
The controversy triggered several investigations, the most important of which concluded in September that there was a conspiracy to shield Vorayuth from prosecution and recommended that those involved — including government officials, lawyers and a prosecutor — face charges.
The Yoovidhya family owns about half of the Red Bull empire, and is listed by Forbes magazine as the second richest in Thailand with an estimated wealth of $20.2 billion.