Thais revoke passport of Red Bull heir over hit-and-run

2017-05-05 17:25
Vorayuth Yoovidhya walks to his car after leaving a house in London. (Matt Dunham, AP file)

Vorayuth Yoovidhya walks to his car after leaving a house in London. (Matt Dunham, AP file)

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Bangkok - Thailand has revoked the passport of the fugitive heir to the Red Bull billions, an official said on Friday, after he left the kingdom and ducked an arrest warrant over a deadly 2012 hit-and-run.

Worayuth Yoovidhya, known as "Boss", fled to Singapore on his private jet days before a warrant was issued for him over the incident which left a policeman dead.

After years giving prosecutors the run around, the 32-year-old billionaire has become an emblem for the impunity enjoyed by the rich and connected in unequal Thailand.

A warrant was belatedly issued for the scion's arrest last week - nearly five years after he allegedly drove off after knocking down and killing a policeman with his Ferrari in downtown Bangkok.

But he was not in the kingdom.

Instead his private jet was sighted at Singapore airport - although authorities there say he has left the city-state.

Amid mounting pressure authorities have pulled his Thai passport.

It was revoked on "Friday afternoon", spokesperson Busadee Santipitaks told AFP.

Several charges against Worayuth 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.

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.

Worayuth'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 about $22 billion and control of more than 50% of the energy drink empire, according to Bloomberg.

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