Critics renew call for Red Bull boycott after controversial decision in Thailand


Netizens and other activists have once again turned to social media in Thailand over a controversial decision in a hit-and-run case involving the scion of the super-wealthy Thai family which majority-owns the Red Bull energy drinks operation.

Vorayuth Yoovidhya, 35, has been accused of hitting a policeman’s motorcycle at high speed with his Ferrari, killing the police officer riding on it and speeding away in the early morning of September 3, 2012 in Bangkok. Prosecutors originally charged him with reckless driving causing death and failing to help a crash victim. However, Yoovidhya fled on a private plane two days before he was due to face the charges.

Investvine covered the case several times:

https://investvine.com/red-bull-brand-pressure-company-heir-interpol-wanted-list

https://investvine.com/red-bull-panama-connection-austria

https://investvine.com/red-bull-face-boycott-wave-thai-media

However, as it turned out on July 23, all cases against the Red Bull heir have been surprisingly dropped by Thailand’s public prosecution, without giving a reason.

The decision was not even officially announced but came to light after a respective letter on the revocation of the arrest warrant in Thailand and with Interpol sent by the office of the attorney general to Yoovidhya’s Bangkok private residence leaked to CNN.

Official explanations that unavoidably followed have been confusing, to say the least.

While police said the attorney-general has ordered the acquittal of Yoovidhya “on all charges,” the same attorney-general, Wongsakul Kittipromwong, said the he “doesn’t know about it, the report has not reached me yet. I need to look at the details first.”

No other explanation has been given since then and the real reasons behind the decision are still unknown to the public.

Also, Red Bull’s operating company T.C. Pharmaceutical Industries Company Ltd. (TCP Group), which belongs to the Yoovidhya family, at first declined to comment on the news. The Yoovidhya family’s fortune is estimated at $13.1 billion by Forbes and Vorayuth’s father, Chalerm, is Thailand’s second-richest person with a fortune of $20.2 billion.

UPDATE: Late on July 25, the company made a statement though, saying that Vorayuth “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,” and the present case was “a personal affair of Mr. Vorayuth Yoovidhya”.

Public confidence shattered

But for sure public trust and confidence in public prosecutors and police have been shaken after the case became public knowledge, with many critics alleging that most likely money has flown behind the scenes. Some are connecting the decision to a well-documented recent “donation” of the Yoovidhya family of 300 million baht ($9.5 million) to the Thai government as “support in the Covid-19 crisis.”

As a result, calls have become (again) louder, especially on social media, to boycott Red Bull and its related products and sponsoring events. On Twitter, the hashtags are #BoycottRedBull and #BanRedBull.

However, the discussion has also been diverse. While some are calling for a complete boycott and naming-and-shaming campaign against Red Bull, others say that Red Bull was not to blame for it, but corruption in Thailand was, and so it would be better to boycott Thailand as a whole for allowing this to happen.

Austrian partnership

Others argue that the Yoovidhya family was not actively involved in the company’s executive decisions – the global operations are run from Austria by Yoovidhya partner Dietrich Mateschitz –, and there is doubt that the Austrian company was involved in the Thai family’s personal issues. And even if the Red Bull business would collapse from a boycott – which is inlikely -, the Yoovidhyas would still retain their fortune, while thousands of staff in retail, manufacturing and distribution would loss employment and income.

Red Bull was originally inspired by a domestic Thai energy drink named Krating Daeng, which was first sold in Thailand by Chaleo Yoovidhya, Vorayuth’s grandfather. It was brought to Europe and further developed into a trendy drink sold in an iconic red, silver and blue can by Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz, at first in Austria in 1987 and later worldwide.

Vorayuth Yoovidhya is expected to be seen at the Formula One Grand Prix in Silverstone, UK, to be held on August 2, in the Red Bull Racing pit – even though it’s a race without spectators this year due to Covid-19.

Netizens and other activists have once again turned to social media in Thailand over a controversial decision in a hit-and-run case involving the scion of the super-wealthy Thai family which majority-owns the Red Bull energy drinks operation. Vorayuth Yoovidhya, 35, has been accused of hitting a policeman’s motorcycle at high speed with his Ferrari, killing the police officer riding on it and speeding away in the early morning of September 3, 2012 in Bangkok. Prosecutors originally charged him with reckless driving causing death and failing to help a crash victim. However, Yoovidhya fled on a private plane two days before...


Netizens and other activists have once again turned to social media in Thailand over a controversial decision in a hit-and-run case involving the scion of the super-wealthy Thai family which majority-owns the Red Bull energy drinks operation.

Vorayuth Yoovidhya, 35, has been accused of hitting a policeman’s motorcycle at high speed with his Ferrari, killing the police officer riding on it and speeding away in the early morning of September 3, 2012 in Bangkok. Prosecutors originally charged him with reckless driving causing death and failing to help a crash victim. However, Yoovidhya fled on a private plane two days before he was due to face the charges.

Investvine covered the case several times:

https://investvine.com/red-bull-brand-pressure-company-heir-interpol-wanted-list

https://investvine.com/red-bull-panama-connection-austria

https://investvine.com/red-bull-face-boycott-wave-thai-media

However, as it turned out on July 23, all cases against the Red Bull heir have been surprisingly dropped by Thailand’s public prosecution, without giving a reason.

The decision was not even officially announced but came to light after a respective letter on the revocation of the arrest warrant in Thailand and with Interpol sent by the office of the attorney general to Yoovidhya’s Bangkok private residence leaked to CNN.

Official explanations that unavoidably followed have been confusing, to say the least.

While police said the attorney-general has ordered the acquittal of Yoovidhya “on all charges,” the same attorney-general, Wongsakul Kittipromwong, said the he “doesn’t know about it, the report has not reached me yet. I need to look at the details first.”

No other explanation has been given since then and the real reasons behind the decision are still unknown to the public.

Also, Red Bull’s operating company T.C. Pharmaceutical Industries Company Ltd. (TCP Group), which belongs to the Yoovidhya family, at first declined to comment on the news. The Yoovidhya family’s fortune is estimated at $13.1 billion by Forbes and Vorayuth’s father, Chalerm, is Thailand’s second-richest person with a fortune of $20.2 billion.

UPDATE: Late on July 25, the company made a statement though, saying that Vorayuth “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,” and the present case was “a personal affair of Mr. Vorayuth Yoovidhya”.

Public confidence shattered

But for sure public trust and confidence in public prosecutors and police have been shaken after the case became public knowledge, with many critics alleging that most likely money has flown behind the scenes. Some are connecting the decision to a well-documented recent “donation” of the Yoovidhya family of 300 million baht ($9.5 million) to the Thai government as “support in the Covid-19 crisis.”

As a result, calls have become (again) louder, especially on social media, to boycott Red Bull and its related products and sponsoring events. On Twitter, the hashtags are #BoycottRedBull and #BanRedBull.

However, the discussion has also been diverse. While some are calling for a complete boycott and naming-and-shaming campaign against Red Bull, others say that Red Bull was not to blame for it, but corruption in Thailand was, and so it would be better to boycott Thailand as a whole for allowing this to happen.

Austrian partnership

Others argue that the Yoovidhya family was not actively involved in the company’s executive decisions – the global operations are run from Austria by Yoovidhya partner Dietrich Mateschitz –, and there is doubt that the Austrian company was involved in the Thai family’s personal issues. And even if the Red Bull business would collapse from a boycott – which is inlikely -, the Yoovidhyas would still retain their fortune, while thousands of staff in retail, manufacturing and distribution would loss employment and income.

Red Bull was originally inspired by a domestic Thai energy drink named Krating Daeng, which was first sold in Thailand by Chaleo Yoovidhya, Vorayuth’s grandfather. It was brought to Europe and further developed into a trendy drink sold in an iconic red, silver and blue can by Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz, at first in Austria in 1987 and later worldwide.

Vorayuth Yoovidhya is expected to be seen at the Formula One Grand Prix in Silverstone, UK, to be held on August 2, in the Red Bull Racing pit – even though it’s a race without spectators this year due to Covid-19.

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