Red Bull wealth and the missing

28 11 2020

Remember the recent media kerfuffle over the cover-up over the hit-and-run case involving Red Bull scion Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya? The big investigation confirmed what everyone in Thailand already knew: the police and justice system were doing all they could to ease things for the filthy rich Yoovidhya clan. The investigating panel found eight groups of individuals, including police, public prosecutors, members of the junta-installed National Legislative Assembly and other politicians, conspired and committed malpractice that resulted in the dropping of all charges against Vorayuth. Lawyers and witnesses gave false testimony. That’s how the judicial system works for the rich. This is the double standards that are normalized.

None of this has harmed the family.

The Guardian reports that “Red Bull has paid out more than €550m (£493m) to its founders, including the [Yoovidhya] family…”.

The company “has paid €211.4m in annual dividends to the family of Chaleo Yoovidhya, the drink’s inventor, who died in 2012” and €343m to Dietrich Mateschitz, Austria’s richest, who helped make the drink an international phenomenon.

The company “is registered in Austria as Red Bull GmbH” and “sold a record 7.5bn cans of Red Bull last year – almost one for each person on the planet.”

According to the report, “Mateschitz stills owns 49% of the company, while another 49% is shared by 11 members of Chaleo Yoovidhya’s family. The final 2% is owned outright by Chaleo’s eldest son, Chalerm.”

All that wealth was no doubt “useful” in getting the now failed cover-up in place. It probably also keeps Vorayuth living the high life wherever he is. Readers may have noticed that the trail has again gone cold, the regime is silent and the police are apparently ignoring the crime and the “investigation.”





Updated: Red Bull facts

27 07 2020

A story at Thai Enquirer notes that:

Red Bull’s parent company in Thailand, TCP Group, released a public statement distancing itself from Vorayuth Yoovidhya who was revealed this week to have been acquitted for a traffic incident which left a police officer dead.

It adds:

The case also sparked scrutiny of Thailand’s large income divide, the Yoovidhya family is estimated to be worth $13.1 billion in a country where the average daily income is slightly more than 10 dollars per day.

Red Bull’s parent conglomerate TCP Group, facing a social media boycott, stated:

TCP Group would like to clarify that Mr. Vorayuth Yoovidhya 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….

It is almost impossible to verify these claims for a private company that operates in a remarkably opaque manner.

Noting that, in 2002, the family-run “Red Bull GmbH produces the world’s leading energy drink. More than a billion cans a year are sold in nearly 100 countries,” Reference for Business states that “Red Bull holds a 70 percent share of the world market for energy drinks…”.

Known as Krating Daeng in Thailand, it has been “produced since the early 1970s by the T.C. Pharmaceutical Co., founded in Thailand in 1962 by Chaleo Yoovidhya [Xǔ Shūbiāo] …. T.C. Pharmaceutical eventually formed the subsidiary Red Bull Beverage Co. Ltd…”. Dietrich Mateschitz was the foreign partner in Red Bull GmbH who worked for Blendax, a German manufacturer of toothpaste that Chaleo marketed in Thailand.

As a private company in Thailand and internationally, there is almost no information on the company. But, we know: “Today, Red Bull GmbH is 51 percent controlled by the Yoovidhya family, who own the trademark for the drink in Europe and the United States of America…”. The only public information about the parent company in Thailand is a list of six members of TCP’s board of directors. Five of the six listed are named Yoovidhya. The sixth and Chair of the Board, Pavana Langthara, is one of Chaleo’s daughters.

An AFP photo clipped from ChannelNews Asia

Back in 2012, when Vorayuth killed the policeman, it was widely believed Vorayuth would go free:

Vorayuth Yoovidhya, a grandson of the late founder of Red Bull, billionaire Chaleo Yoovidhya, had initially fled the scene but later confessed to hitting the policeman, police said. He was released hours later on 500,000 baht ($16,000) bail.

Though Vorayuth has yet to appear in court, there seemed little faith among the public that justice would be served.

“Jail is only for the poor. The rich never get punished. Find a scapegoat,” said one of a stream of comments posted on the popular Thai website, Panthip.com.

It was also reported that Vorayuth “tested positively for cocaine in his blood…”.

Where did Vorayuth flee to after the crash?

Police took Vorayuth Yoovidhya, 27, for questioning after tracing oil streaks for several blocks to his family’s gated estate in a wealthy neighborhood of the Thai capital.

The family prevented police from accessing the compound for some time, allowing covering-up to begin. Recall that the cover-up began when a police investigator “initially tried to cover up the crime by turning in a bogus suspect.”

Then the family sought to pay off the dead policeman’s family: they “struck a deal that will pay the officer’s siblings less than US$100,000.”

In other words, TCP/Red Bull is a Sino-Thai family-owned, private company completely dominated by the Yoovidhya family. For the family to claim that Vorayuth is not on the board or in management is a nonsense. He is, as he was long-described, an heir to the family fortune, made from Red Bull. His family stood by him early in the legal processes and it would be absurd to think the family did not know of his legal tactics and evasions.

In another “fact check,” we noted a Thai PBS report that Constitutional Court judge Thaveekiart Meenakanit “urged Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to investigate alleged mishandling, by the police and the public prosecutors, of the Red Bull heir hit and run case…”.

Obviously, the case is not constitutional, but the judge worried that “Thailand’s justice system has been rendered meaningless, after the prosecutors’ decision to drop the charges against the suspect and the police’s failure to challenge that decision.”

The judge fretted that it “the suspect was spared prosecution, apparently because of his economic and social status, is unprecedented and incomprehensible.”

We wonder if Thaveekiart has been asleep fro the past 15 years? Has he missed the double standards applied to red shirts? Has he missed the way the poor are locked up and the rich go free all the time? Has he slept through his own court’s politically-biased decisions? Has he snored through the massive impunity enjoyed by the murderous military?

The judge is right that “the majority of the people now see that the law is no longer sacred or to be respected” but he’s a decade and half late in recognizing it. But when he says that the current regime “can now only lean on law and order to justify its existence…”, he’s completely out of touch. The regime’s existence depends on the illegal 2014 military coup.

While sleepy, his point that this travesty of (in)justice “is the beginning of the end of the Government…” reflects the manner in which the royalist regime has relied on the judiciary to legitimize its rule. He’s warning that allowing the Red Bull lot to get away with murder is threatening to the regime’s claims to legitimacy, even if we know that legitimacy is based on double standards and impunity.

Remarkably, the judge explained “that many people believe that the Prime Minister’s reported acceptance of a 300 million baht donation from the Red Bull empire a few months ago, might be related to the decisions of the prosecutors and the police concerning the case.”

Now, that’s a question worth asking!

How high can the junta pile it?

Update: Helpfully, in an op-ed at the Bangkok Post, Ploenpote Atthakor that the buffalo manure that passes for justice in this case is “the rule not the exception.” She adds: “I need not tell you why there are such blatant double standards. If I do, I’ll only end up sounding like a broken record…”.

Meanwhile, following Thaveekiart’s advice, Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has ordered “an inquiry into the prosecution’s decision to drop a reckless driving charge against Red Bull scion Vorayuth Yoovidhya following public outrage over the news…”. Yet he betrayed his affinity for the filthy rich when he doled out buffalo poo by calling “on critics and media outlets not to seize on the controversy and distort facts or cause misunderstanding…”. The only misunderstanding seems to be among the relevant authorities! Laughably, he declared “he has never intervened in the justice administration process and the prosecution works under no political pressure…”.

Posterior covering reigns, with the prosecutors and Office of the Attorney General leaking:

New specialist and motorist witnesses who made statements that Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya did not drive his Ferrari over the speed limit and that the policeman who was killed abruptly cut in front of his vehicle are the key factors which convinced prosecutors to drop charges against the Red Bull scion.

In a leaked document outlining public prosecutors’ reasoning for their decision to drop the charge against Mr Vorayuth of reckless driving causing death, information from the new witnesses was given more weight than previous evidence, including forensic results.

It is astounding to think that after eight years of being unable to find Vorayuth, the authorities found new “witnesses.” To add to the “story,” the prosecutors blamed the victim.

Why the Office of the Attorney-General has now “set up a seven-member fact-finding panel to investigate the decision, by Thailand’s Office of Special Prosecutors for Criminal Litigation, to drop charges” seems bizarre when “Nate Naksuk, chief justice of the Department of Appealate Litigation in his capacity as acting attorney-general, signed the order to drop the charge.”





Wealth and impunity

30 09 2019

Fugitives from justice were mentioned by Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha in his inept talk at the Asia Society. He only means Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra. But there’s also the long story of billionaire fugitive Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya that The Dictator ignores.

In a story for The Walrus, Martha Mendoza recalls how the rich get away with murder.

It was back in early September 2012, when playboy Vorayuth “roared his Ferrari down Sukhumvit Road” and “slammed into motorcycle cop Sergeant Major Wichean Glanprasert, dragging the officer, along with his tangled bike, down the block.” Vorayuth fled the scene and hid in a family compound. His family have accumulated a wealth of more than$13 billion through their Red Bull enterprises and by hoovering up all kinds of other investments that almost magically fall into the copious laps of the tycoons in Bangkok.

Party time for Boss (clipped from The Daily Mail)

Police followed a trail to the family mansion but were initially denied entry. The family tried to have a chauffeur take the blame, “but Boss later admitted to being the one behind the wheel.” He turned himself in, was granted bail and fled the scene again. So far none of the court cases have gone anywhere as Vorayuth is “unavailable.” The police, government and the family’s friends seem unconcerned. No one is held responsible for the death. Boss lives the high life with impunity.

Having set the scene, we just cut-and-paste from Mendoza’s excellent story:

… Within weeks of the incident, Boss was back to enjoying his family’s jet-set lifestyle: he flew around the world on private Red Bull jets, cheered the company’s Formula One racing team from Red Bull’s VIP seats, and kept a shiny black Porsche Carrera in London with custom licence plates—B055 RBR, or Boss Red Bull racing.

… Boss is reported to have at least two passports and a complex network of offshore accounts, and with these tools, he’s able to travel the world with impunity. More than 120 photos posted on Facebook and Instagram, as well as some racing blogs, show Boss visiting at least nine countries…. He’s cruised Monaco’s harbour, snowboarded Japan’s fresh powder, and celebrated his birthday at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London. This means that while authorities say they’ve had no idea where Boss was, his friends, family, and all of their followers seem to have had no doubt about his whereabouts and the good times he’s been having.

… During the time Boss hid in plain sight, an Associated Press (AP) investigation into his whereabouts simultaneously exposed how the Yoovidhya family has spent decades hiding its assets in offshore accounts.

… As the business expanded, Chaleo Yoovidhya began hiding his assets. In 1994, he set up a shell company called Golden Falcon Trading Company in the British Virgin Islands. The Panama Papers, an international collaboration among journalists that began in 2016 to sift through leaked documents that identify the offshore financial dealings of the world’s wealthy, disclosed that ten of Chaleo’s children were shareholders.

The Yoovidhya family’s efforts to hide assets show how billions in private wealth can be moved around the world with minimal regulation to avoid tax and other legal constraints. The extent of the family’s confidential deals was inadvertently exposed by Boss and his social-media-loving cousins during his time on the run: they had posted photos of Boss walking into a London townhouse, and they even included the address….

An investigation into the five-storey brick home showed that it is the address Boss’s father, Chalerm Yoovidhya, gave when incorporating Siam Winery Trading Plus in the UK in 2002, and that his mother, Daranee Yoovidhya, used when opening a food-related business there in 2006. But, according to AP, the listed owner of the home, and at least four other multi-million-dollar properties in London, isn’t the Yoovidhyas—it’s Karnforth Investments, a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, according to the Panama Papers.

… [T]he main shareholder of the energy drink’s UK business is another British Virgin Islands company called Jerrard Company.

Here’s where it gets complicated: an investigation by AP revealed that Karnforth has just one shareholder, which is Jerrard. And Jerrard is held by a third offshore company, which controls a fourth, called JK Fly. Who owns JK Fly? Karnforth. The Yoovidhyas’ offshore companies overlap with nominee directors—people legally paid small amounts to sign forms and attend directors’ meetings in lieu of the true owners, whose names remain confidential.

According to AP, documents from the Panama Papers show that, for years, money has flowed back and forth between these various entities. For example, in 2005, Jerrard loaned Karnforth $6.5 million US to buy two London properties. In 2012, Jerrard cancelled the mortgages, giving Karnforth ownership of the properties. Since 2010, JK Fly has owed Karnforth, its sole shareholder, about $14 million US in an interest-free loan to purchase aircraft.

… In 2010, and again in 2013, the papers [Panama Papers] show that auditors at Mossack Fonseca’s head offices in Panama—the company that arranged the Yoovidhya’s network of companies—raised concerns about Karnforth and Jerrard. Documents verifying the true owners were missing.

[W]hile other governments were swift and aggressive in responding to Panama Papers revelations, that has not been the case in Thailand. More than 1,400 Thai individuals were identified in the documents, but according to AP, the government calls the reports rumours….

Law professor Viraphong Boonyobhas, director of Chulalongkorn University’s business-crime and money-laundering data bank in Bangkok, would not speak directly about the Yoovidhyas or any other Thai person or company, saying he feared for his legal and physical safety….

Corruption is defined by the abuse of power for private gain. It erodes public trust and undermines institutions. In Thailand, many residents assume the wealthy elite can break the law with impunity. Over generations, people have grown used to giving mandatory “gifts” of cash to judges, police, and government officials in exchange for building and business permits, as well as favourable court decisions. They’ve watched as rich and influential families win lucrative contracts and avoid prosecutors.

Here’s who gets arrested in Thailand: citizens gathering for nonviolent protests to denounce the coup-installed junta government, bloggers posting social-media messages critical of the king, journalists carrying bulletproof vests and helmets for protection at riots that at times turn deadly.

The policeman’s family grieved but figured at least there would be justice.

They didn’t get it and they know the justice system “runs on a ‘double standard’…”. In Thailand, “the justice system has two tracks: one for the elite and one for everybody else.”





Updated: Rich people’s “justice”

6 03 2013

It was only a week ago that PPT posted a link to Kaewmala’s post on the nature of justice in Thailand. As we said then, she began with a provocative header: “Justice is ‘blind’ – to the rich’s crimes.” So it is that she is proven correct with a story in The Nation that tells us that Kanpitak Patchimsawat, known as Moo Ham and the son of a wealthy businessman, who in 2007 was involved in a road accident where his Mercedes Benz crashed into a bus, attacked the bus driver and then drove his car into people at the nearby bus-stop killing one and injuring seven.

He was initially sentenced to ten years, but this was reduced because he “had provided compensation to the victims and their families and that he had a mental problem.” Now, after several appeals, the Appeals Court has given him a two years’ suspended jail term. No jail time. This is because the court found that the rich kid “had a mental problem that reduced his ability to control himself while under stress.”

As Kaewmala stated:

Amid case after case of blatant exploitation of power and influence, the Thai pubic has become almost desensitized by the impunity of the rich and come to expect different standards of justice applied to the rich and the poor.

The Bangkok Post has a fuller account of the whittling away of his sentence.

Update: Another case of rich kids and justice (or lack thereof) is reported in The Nation. This one refers to the case of hit-and-run rich kid Vorayuth Yoovidhya of the Red Bull family. PPT has three earlier posts on his case (here, here and here). In one of these posts we explained that he stands accused of killing a policeman by smashing into him in his 30 million baht Ferrari and then streaking off – dragging the policeman’s body for a distance – to hide in his mansion and to organize a cover-up with other corrupt police. Of course, for the filthy rich in Thailand, this is the normal thing to do.

Now the police investigators have submitted their final report. The police “insisted that the police had not dragged their feet but were carefully investigating the case within its time frame of six months.” Oddly, a police boss is reported as stating that the “police did not fear criticism if the end result turns out like that of Kanpitak “Moo Ham” Patchimsawat…”. Another scion of the rich is set to walk away?

 





The rich don’t care

26 09 2012

PPT has several times commented on rich peoples’ justice and about the rich who act like they are royals and above all common people.

AP reports on the billionaire family of a Red Bull drink heir who stands accused of killing a policeman by smashing into him in his 30 million baht Ferrari and then streaking off – dragging the policeman’s body for a distance – to hide in his mansion and to organize a cover-up with other corrupt police. Of course, for the filthy rich in Thailand, this is the normal thing to do.

That caused well-deserved outrage as rumors swirled about Vorayuth Yoovidhya, grandson of the recently deceased Sino-Thai tycoon Chaleo, claiming drunk driving and even cocaine use.

The Yoovidhya family has now done the other thing that the dripping rich do when facing charges that involve deaths. They have paid compensation to the policeman’s relatives. This payment is usually to gain a personal debt and thus a lessening of anger and, hopefully, and easy run in court. Again, as we noted, this is normal for the rich and contributes to the view that they can get away with murder. They reportedly paid 3 million baht ($97,000).

A police officer stated that “the settlement will protect Vorayuth from a civil lawsuit.” He added: “We sometimes call this a ‘funeral fee.’ If the victim’s party is satisfied with the amount of money, then they will not seek compensation through a court…”.

Public outrage has again grown over the incident. This family is is worth 162 billion baht. That’s billion, not million. The car used when the policeman was killed cost 30 million baht. The “compensation” paid was 3 million baht. The rich kill and they can buy and bribe their way through a corrupt judicial system.





Updated: “I don’t believe in Thai justice”

6 09 2012

Our heading is drawn from a story at NBC News, where the whole quote is:

“As long as you are rich and powerful, you can get away with everything,” said 40-year-old Ubonwan Weeyanond. “I don’t believe in Thai justice, it’s only a privilege for the rich, not for poor people.”

Another interviewee stated: “Do they think people are stupid?” Of course, this statement refers to the case of Red Bull heir, Vorayuth Yoovidhya, drove his Ferrari, allegedly at a speed of 200 kph, into a policeman, killed him and fled the scene, with his family attempting to arrange a police cover up. That approach is pretty much par for the course amongst Thailand’s rich and famous.

The NBC story makes a point PPT made a couple of days ago:

The issue of “double standards” for the wealthy and privileged is highly politically charged in Thailand. Many Thais argue that the courts sell justice to the highest bidder, and the tattered reputation of Thailand’s judiciary has sunk even lower in recent years due to several clumsy political interventions by the courts.

There are now literally hundreds of media reports  on this story, yet again displaying the failures of the justice system and, indeed, its politicization.

Update: The Bangkok Post states that “Vorayuth will face an additional charge of drunk driving…” in addition to “charges of failing to stop after an accident and reckless driving causing death.” Are such charges sufficient? It is also reported that “Metropolitan Police Bureau chief Kamronwit Thoopkrachang said on Thursday he had ordered the dismissal from the force of Pol Lt-Col Pannapon Nammuang, an inspector at Thong Lor police station…. He said Pol Lt-Col Pannapon first arrested a scapegoat, Suwes Hom-ubon, in an attempt to protect Mr Vorayuth. Mr Suwes is Mr Vorayuth’s aide and chauffeur.” The bent copper can appeal against the decision based on the decision that “Pannapon acted illegally in trying to place blame on an innocent person to protect an offender.”

Another Post article states that the speed “… was likely to have been driving at more than 100 kilometres per hour before the fatal crash on Monday…”.





Further updated: Rich peoples’ “justice”

4 09 2012

PPT has to mention briefly the New York Times report on the hit-and-run case involving the Red Bull heir Vorayuth Yoovidhya, the late Chaleo Yoovidhya’s grandson. He is alleged to have driven a Ferrari over a policeman and his motorcycle, driven on, dragging the policeman and leaving him dead, before charging home.

Of course, Vorayuth is from a fabulously wealthy family and has a story of the death being the victim’s fault.

Initially, the local police “attempted to cover up the heir’s involvement by arresting a bogus suspect…”. That was re-thought when the media lit up, and Vorayuth now “faces charges of causing death by reckless driving but was released on 500,000 baht ($15,900) bail.”

Of course, this is just another case of rich people’s “justice.” Just a few days ago, the teenager daughter of a general and with a privileged name (Devahastin Na Ayudhya) and powerful relatives who, as an unlicensed driver, had driven her car into a minivan, killing nine people in 2010, got a suspended sentence. Yep, responsible for the deaths of nine citizens and got no jail time. The rich kid has never apologized but faces huge compensation claims, which her family will now proceed to “negotiate” down.

Wouldn’t lese majeste victims, not accused of killing anyone, just love to have bail. Any bail. Few of them ever get off or have a suspended sentence (Chiranuch Premchaiporn being an exception). These rich kids who kill people get leniency, support and cover-ups while those who dare to speak of the monarchy tend to get locked up for years.

Double standards abound in a Thailand where the rich can get away with murder.

Updates: We changed the reference to daughter of a general as we have been unable to re-confirm this. And, for those interested in comparisons, a red shirt leader, Jeng Dokchik, has had his request for a renewal of bail rejected. His crime is to have been politically charged as a “terrorist” and then is said to have said nasty things about untouchable judges. It seems it is less a crime to actually kill people while driving, if you are a son or daughter of the elite.





Thailand’s richest minus one

31 08 2011

Forbes has published its annual rich list for Thailand. It notes that Thailand’s stock exchange has been one of the world’s best performing over the past year and the baht has appreciated, adding to the wealth in dollar terms for many of the already fabulously rich. For all of the political conflict, Forbes says:

Collectively the wealth of the richest 40 advanced 25% to an aggregate $45 billion. Their asset growth is helping these industrialists ramp up investments in operations abroad like never before. The wealth of three-quarters of those on the list rose.

The top ten on the Forbes list are as follows:

#1 Dhanin Chearavanont, Net Worth $7,400 mil

#2 Chaleo Yoovidhya, Net Worth $5,000 mil

#3 Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, Net Worth $4,800 mil

#4 Chirathivat family, Net Worth $4,300mil

#5 Krit Ratanarak & family, Net Worth $2,500 mil

#6 Aloke Lohia, Net Worth $2,100 mil

#7 Chamnong Bhirombhakdi, Net Worth $2,000 mil

#8 Vichai Maleenont, Net Worth $1,500 mil

#9 Isara Vongkusolkit & family, Net Worth $1,400 mil

#10 Praneetsilpa Vacharaphol & family, Net Worth $1,050 mil

Of the top three, Forbes says this:

Dhanin Chearavanont, who owns agribusiness conglomerate, Charoen Pokphand Group, remains in the top spot at $7.4 billion. In second place is the $5 billion fortune of Chaleo Yoovidhya, co-owner of Red Bull energy drinks, closely followed by the $4.8 billion of whiskey king Charoen Sirivadhanbhakdi. The top three have seen their net worths swell over the past year as consumers buy up their wares.

Thaksin Shinawatra has not been left behind either, although he ranks much lower than he would have a decade ago:

… Thaksin Shinawatra (No. 19), rose 53% to $600 million, thanks to a stock split and doubling of share price of his family’s real estate development firm, SC Asset.

One of Thaksin’s enemies, Prachai Leophairatana, is said to be a phoenix story:

rising from the ashes of Asia’s 1997 financial conflagration. Prachai Leophairatana, the former billionaire once known as Thailand’s biggest defaulter, with $3.8 billion in bad loans at his defunct Thai Petrochemical Industries group, is on the rebound. Shares of the remaining part of his empire, cement maker TPI Polene hit a three-year high in August, putting this controversial tycoon on the list at No. 29, with $300 million.

As usual, Thailand’s richest family, the royal family, is not on the list. Forbes usually includes the king at the top of its world’s richest royals each year.

Even so, there are plenty of royalists in the list. The top four are all known to be generous supporters of royal galas and other pet projects and Prachai was long seen as a funder of anti-Thaksin yellow shirt rallies, led by the People’s Alliance for Democracy.





The rich, minus 1

10 03 2011

Forbes has just published its annual rich list – The World’s Billionaires 2011 – and lists three for Thailand. The ranking hasn’t changed much since 2010, although wealth is increasing:

Dhanin

Ranked at 152 worldwide is Dhanin Chearavanont & family with assets valued at $6.5 Billion, mainly centered on the Charoen Phokphand (CP) group. Forbes lists the main holdings: 7-Eleven store operator, CP ALL, Charoen Pokphand Foods, PT Charoen Pokphand.  Also owns country’s third largest mobile phone company, which just took over Hutchison Telecom’s Thailand operations. Dhanin is listed as a “philanthropist” who “restores Buddhist temples in Thailand, sponsors schools and orphanages.” He’s also a full member of the group of business leaders who give strong support to the monarchy and its causes, political and otherwise. Regulalrly seen providing donations to royals.

Chaleo

Ranked 208 is Red Bull’s Chaleo Yoovidhya. He is listed as the founder of “f Thai energy drink producer T.C. Pharmaceuticals. Teamed up with Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz two decades ago to create energy drink Red Bull. Chaleo provided beverage formula and his partner contributed the marketing flair. Today Red Bull, which has $5 billion (sales), plans to expand to China this year. Each partner owns 49% of the company. Chaleo’s son, Chalerm, who owns one of Asia’s leading wine producers, Siam Winery, holds remaining 2%. Family upped stake in privately held Piyavate Hospital.” The group recently sponsored a major royal event.

Charoen

Ranked at 247 is Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi. Forbes writes that “he made his fortune selling inexpensive beer and whiskey. Controls Thai Bev, Thailand’s largest brewer and distiller, best known for its Chang Beer. Took his company public in Singapore in 2006 after Buddhist protesters [led by PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang] stopped the listing on Thailand’s stock exchange. His privately held TCC Land owns Bangkok’s famous tech-mall Pantip Plaza, Hotel Plaza Athenee in Manhattan. Also owns other hotels in Asia, the U.S. and Australia, residential, commercial and retail buildings in Singapore and Thailand.” He has good bureaucratic contacts through his liquor and beer businesses. Charoen has been a generous donor to royal activities. He is remarkably powerful and has huge cash flow, which makes him a valuable political ally.

Missing, of course, is the wealthiest family in Thailand. That’s because the they appear on a very special list at Forbes that we posted on in July 2010 as the wealthiest royals. Ranked on the assets of the Crown Property Bureau alone, the royal family would rank as high as 7 or 8 on the list of the world’s billionaires.





Red Bull royalty

19 12 2010

From Bangkok Post

A couple of days ago, in a post regarding the king and the visit by Red Bull F1 driver Mark Webber, PPT observed: “There’s also a whiff of the royals wanting to ‘take back’ Rajadamnoen and Khok Wua from the red shirts. This does it with an alleged royal heritage to a racing prince on ground where the royal family has landholdings.”

The Nation reports on the event held at Rajadamnoen (the Bangkok Post has a story also), and makes this point more clearly, with a Headline reading: “Wonder and thunder on the Street of Kings.” The message is clear and it is repeated through the article. The very large royal involvement is also highlighted, suggesting a much closer relationship between Red Bull and its owners, the Yoovidhya family, and the monarchy.

The story begins by stating that “[t]housands of people, both Thai and foreigners, gathered along Rajdamnoen Avenue yesterday to be part of the historic Street of Kings Rajdamnoen Red Bull Bangkok 2010 event. The traffic around the area was completely shut down at about 1.30pm” [No complaints about that, from The Nation or police, unlike when red shirts rally.]

Apparently, the “best spots” for viewing it were the “Phan Fah Leelat Bridge …[and] Khok Wua intersection” along with the Democracy Monument, all significant sites of red shirt demonstrations in April 2010. Since then they have seen smaller assemblies remembering the crackdown there and the deaths of red shirts at these spots.

To further reinforce the event as a royalist celebration, there were “three parades from Red Bull.” The first was a “the train to honour the king.” It included a “band to honour HM the King, who is well-known for his proficiency in playing jazz. The second “was a parade of students and people wearing pink shirts, as pink is a lucky colour for the King. They all carried and waved Thai flags.” The third was associated with Red Bull and its hired and sponsored celebrities.

The royal symbolism of these parades is then reinforced by a remarkably high profile royal event where “Princess Chulabhorn Walailak presided over the event at Maha Jessada Bodin courtyard pavilion. Mrs Saipin Phaholyothin, a Red Bull executive, offered a garland, while Mr Saravoot Yoovidhya, the managing director of Red Bull Beverage, presented the program agenda and Chalerm Yoovidhya, chairman of Redbull Co Ltd (London), offered a souvenir to the Princess.” It is reported that “The Princess pressed the button to open the way for the first Formula 1 race-car on the streets of Bangkok.”

From Indiatimes

To drive home the connection between this event and the symbolic driving out of red shirts, royal and Democrat Party Governor of Bangkok “MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra reported on the objectives of the event, which aimed to celebrate HM the King’s birthday, as well as to show a good image of a peaceful Bangkok to people around the world.”

A separate report states that “Red Bull and Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) jointly organized the event…”.

Apart from the remarkable royalism of the whole thing, there is an eerily 19th century tone to the report, mixing local dignitaries from government, rich Sino-Thai and ethnic Chinese tycoons, wonders from abroad and royals. But that is probably how the event was meant to be, symbolizing and making public the links between royal wealth and that of a leading capitalist in a style that recalls absolutism.

And, a footnote on crowd size. PPT knows this area pretty well and was there several times during red shirt rallies in March this year. Hence, we are accepting of a Thai News Agency report that has this claim: “Over 100,000 fans experienced a Formula One car racing (F1) demonstration on Rajdamnoen Avenue Saturday afternoon as part of the celebrations for the King’s 84th birthday in 2011 in the ‘Street of Kings Rajdamnoen Red Bull Bangkok 2010’ show.” We’ve looked at as many pictures and as much video of this event as we can, and if the crowd was really 100,000, then we need to revise all of the March and April official estimates of the size of the red shirt rally, doubling or even tripling them.