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.”





Justice system compromised

17 09 2020

We have been posting about this for years and it will not be news for PPT readers, but a Bangkok Post editorial has said this in reflecting on the Yoovidhya case:

It doesn’t help matters that individuals who were found to have helped the wealthy culprit are heads of organisations, most of whom are top mandarins whose duty is to uphold the rule of law. Their misconduct has shown that Thai law enforcement agencies are nothing but paper tigers….

The public is expecting the unscrupulous officials to at least be punished and the saga to lead to an overhaul of the justice system. Anything less would simply not be acceptable.

As we said in a recent post, the most obvious question is: who paid and/or rewarded these officials to act in the interests of the rich? Will we ever learn the truth? Will those offering the payoffs be charged?

Then there’s the question of double standards. Not only is there a justice system that is essentially up for sale to the rich and influential, but one that has dished out different judicial standards for the supporters of the rich and powerful – and especially the monarchy and military – and those who oppose this corrupt and decaying system. No amount of reform will fix the work that has been done by two military coups, political purges of the bureaucracy, the destruction of the independence of “independent agencies” and devious, elitist judges.





Updated: Who paid?

9 09 2020

A Bangkok Post editorial claims “[t]he public was left stunned last week when the results were unveiled by Mr Vicha [Mahakun], a former national graftbuster” that investigated the “mishandling in the hit-and-run case involving Red Bull scion Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya…”.

Frankly, we think that no one was stunned by the revelations but perhaps some were stunned that an investigation got close to the truth. Everyone in Thailand knew that the police and justice system were doing all they could to ease things for the filthy rich Yoovidhya clan.

That the investigating panel immediately found “eight groups of individuals who conspired and committed malpractice that resulted in the dropping of all charges against Mr Vorayuth…” confirmed what everyone had guessed.

That both police and public prosecutors were identified was no surprise but perhaps the accusation that “members of the junta-installed National Legislative Assembly and politicians of intervening in the investigation” are also identified might have been something of a surprise.

Then there were the expected conclusions that “lawyers and witnesses [gave] … false testimony…”.

It was, as most knew, “a conspiracy” for the rich extending over eight years. This is how the judicial system works for the rich. This is the double standards that are normalized.

The editorial hints at ongoing cover-ups: the panel cleared the prosecutor who finally dropped the charges. It was only after a public outcry that anything was done to reverse the downward spiral that favored a scion of the richest.

The next and most obvious question is: who paid and/or rewarded these officials to act in the interests of the rich? Will we ever learn the truth? Will those offering the payoffs be charged?

Update: Khaosod reports on leaked conversations between police and the public prosecutor. Published by Isra News, the phone conversation “discussed ways to amend the speed Vorayuth … Yoovidhya was driving when he … killed the policeman.”The classic bit:

“I kindly ask the commander since the prosecutor office wants to help. We want them to feel relieved. They intend to help as much as they can, so I want to ask you frankly.”





Cocaine blues for the clowns in brown II

5 08 2020

According to recent reports, the panel of prosecutors hurriedly put together as a regime mechanism to deal with the political fallout of the effort to exonerate Red Bull scion Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, has recommended “charges of cocaine abuse and reckless driving causing death…”. Yes, the things that were all mentioned in reports in 2012. The police and prosecutors have come full circle.

Described as a “dramatic turnaround,” the posterior covering was sensational. Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) spokesman Prayut Petcharakhun “explained” that in dropping all charges, “Nate Naksuk, deputy attorney-general responsible for cases with justice complaints, had initially made a sound decision against arraignment based on available evidence and witnesses.” That is, of course, a pile of buffalo manure.

How high?

Prayut then further “explained” that the evidence by Sathon Wicharnwannarak, a Chulalongkorn University physics lecturer “who worked for forensic police, [and] had concluded that the speed of the Ferrari at the time of the crash was about 177kph. However, the conclusion had not been included in police investigative report relating to the case.” Now why was that? Most would guess that pressures, influences and greased palms might have been involved.

An what of the “alleged cocaine abuse?” OAG’s Prayut “said that a blood sample taken from Mr Vorayuth’s blood on the day of the crash indicated that he had abused cocaine. However, police had not raised the matter in their past investigative report…”. What a surprise!

Neither did police and prosecutors include “the charge of driving under the influence of alcohol because a test showed the Red Bull scion must have drunk after the crash — because his blood alcohol level was so high, he would have been unable to drive.” Yeah, right.

Prayut went on to describe all the omitted stuff as now somehow being “new evidence” that “justified the fresh investigation in the hit-and-run case.” See above for buffalo manure. The hopelessness of this claim of “new evidence” is shown to be manure in a Bangkok Post report that notes that “the new evidence involved the statements made by two experts … at the time of the fatal crash.”

Perhaps the only piece of reasonably good news is that a committee will “look into the financial transactions of people involved to determine if any irregularities were present.” That may not reveal much as most corruption money goes up the line. But at least the panel has thought of it.





Facebook and the censors

2 08 2020

A couple of days ago we mentioned a report that “Facebook has admitted to an error in its automatic translation, from English to Thai, and has offered a profound apology to the Thai people.” As the error was not detailed, we assumed it involved the monarchy.

Several readers have now told us that the translation for the king’s birthday made it his death day.

But even after Facebook had made its apology, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society sprang into royalist action. It:

sent an urgent letter to Facebook in Singapore and Thailand, demanding the social media giant take responsibility over a mistranslated headline from English into Thai about the live broadcasting ceremony to celebrate the King’s birthday seen on several media Facebook pages on Tuesday.

At lightening speed, the police have begun “collecting evidence for an investigation into the matter following a complaint made by Thai PBS TV station on Wednesday.” Comparisons with the farce of the Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya case. The regime’s priorities are all too evident.

The panicked Thai PBS groveled, contacting ” the Royal Household Bureau, the DES Ministry and various agencies about the incident.”

DES Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta, one of Suthep Thaugsuban’s men, “confirmed the letter was sent to Facebook” while “at a meeting with National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) together with internet service providers (ISPs) about efforts to deal with the violations of the Computer Crime Act.”

In other words, the Minister and the regime he serves are more broadly concerned about social media and the monarchy and to declare that the Ministry has been active, “gather[ing] evidence and fil[ing] complaints to the courts, which were asked to issue an order to close websites or delete information which breached the law.”

Buddhipongse said the Ministry had “received complaints about 8,715 URLs. Of them, the courts issued orders for action against 7,164 URLs.” Apparently this is for the first seven months of the year. The Minister added that “YouTube removed 1,507 out of 1,616 URLs [93%] on the court orders from its platform. Facebook took down 1,316 out of 4,676 URLs [28%] as ordered by the court.”

This caused him to criticize and threaten Facebook: “Facebook gave little cooperation although it operates a service in Thailand and Thais generate fruitful benefits to the company…”.

We decided to look at the data. While not yet available for the period the Minister rants about, Google (including YouTube) reports that for the whole of 2019, it received 4,684 requests for removal of specific items from Thai officials. It removed 3,945 or about 84%.

Facebook reports data that is only This report details instances where it has “limited access to content based on local law.” While we can’t find data for the number of requests received, the data do show how blocking has expanded over time (see our first post on this).

As the Thai Enquirer observes, this action coincides with “heightened tensions over the treatment of the Thai monarchy, in recent weeks, with ardent royalists becoming increasingly more active in protecting the [monarchy]… from becoming embroiled or linked with political commentary…”.

It might have added that it coincides with the long absence of the king from the country. As far as we can remember, since early this year, he’s only been in Thailand for a few hours. This has led to considerable muttering.





Cocaine blues for the clowns in brown I

1 08 2020

After having ridiculed police claims that the cocaine in blood of Red Bull scion Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya was from dentistry, PPT was pleased to note that the president of the Dental Council has confirmed that “[d]entists do not use cocaine as an anaesthetic on patients…”.

The cops are such a bunch of dipsticks and no one is ever held accountable for their outrageous lies. Even the dentist involved has denied the claim:

The dentist who provided dental treatment for Red Bull scion Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya has meanwhile denied using cocaine in his dentistry after police said there might be a misunderstanding regarding police testimony over the use of the drug.

The police now agree with that dentist!! They say that back in 2012, the “dentist, whose identity was withheld, confirmed that he administered medication without narcotics to Mr Vorayuth…”. So they have now changed their story:

… the investigators concluded there was no actual cocaine found in Mr Vorayuth’s blood and that there was no other evidence against him, so the police did not press charges related to illicit drug use against him….

One could perhaps be forgiven for thinking that there are cops pocketing bribes or accepting favors are grasping at straws in their efforts to free this rich ratbag. Their efforts are infantile, with high school students demonstrating that they know these claims are worse than ludicrous.

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

But never fear, the same dipsticks who stalled “investigations,” looked anywhere but where Boss was hiding in plain sight and then exonerated him on the basis of no evidence at all, are back on the job. They plan to find out if there were drugs in the Ferrari-driving rich lad’s blood back in 2012. That should waste more time and drag out the do nothing strategy even further.





Updated: Prawit, the rich and the death of a “witness”

31 07 2020

The Bangkok Post reports on the social media storm around The Watchman, Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, who is the head of the Palang Pracharath Party, a coup plotter and a corrupt old soldier.

Prawit has been forced to deny “that his family had influence over the decision to drop the manslaughter charge against Red Bull scion Vorayuth ‘Boss’ Yoovidhya…”.

Various reports have claimed that:

Gen Prawit’s brother, Admiral Sitthawat, was chairman of the now-dissolved National Legislative Assembly (NLA) committee when Mr Vorayuth’s lawyer, Samak, petitioned it to have the charge dropped.

The reports said the committee later asked prosecutors to send Vorayuth’s case file back to the police to reconsider his indictments, citing new witnesses. The move effectively killed the case against the young heir.

Gen Prawit’s denials were unconvincing and the view that the regime’s bosses have been involved is unlikely to be reduced.

This is especially the case when one of the “new” witnesses who the police and prosecutors have claimed to have provided “evidence” for dropping the charges against Vorayuth has been killed in a traffic accident. With echos of the Saudi gems scandal, which had a huge body count. Describing it as a “normal accident,” may not cut the mustard with a skeptical public.

Update: It just gets “better” and more “hilarious.” According to the Bangkok Post, Bangkok’s cops are now claiming “that illicit chemical substances, including cocaine, found in Red Bull scion Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya in the 2012 hit-and-run case were used for his dental treatment…”. They claimed that “a dentist confirmed he had administered medicines which had cocaine as a component for dental treatment.” Let us guess. It was the family dentist….

The garrulous cops were speaking before a parliamentary committee and had nothing at all to support this claim: “the police did not provide clear details and had no medical documents to prove that chemical substances found in Mr Vorayuth’s body were the result of dental treatment…”.

Just for fun, we looked briefly at cocaine in dentistry. We found a scientific article, “Cocaine in dental Surgery” in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). That was from 1885. There’s a Drugs.com entry that says, “Although cocaine is an acceptable topical anesthetic for dental procedures, it is no longer extensively used in dentistry because of its toxicity.” At Dental Economics there’s a history of local anesthesia and the use of cocaine in dentistry. It states:

Cocaine was abandoned because of inconsistency in efficacy, and it was difficult to obtain.

In 1905, Procaine (Novocaine) was introduced. To this was added Epinephrine, which reduced the dissipation of the drug. The “caines” developed subsequent to cocaine have no relationship to cocaine other than an etymological and pharmacological one in that they cause anesthesia.





The rich get away with murder

28 07 2020

It is reported that “police have opened an internal investigation after charges were dropped against the billionaire Red Bull heir … amid outrage over a perceived culture of impunity for the rich…”. We see this as nothing more than a part of a continuing effort to kid the public that the police are interested in justice. It is also about the regime’s “management” of discontent.

While in a source PPT doesn’t usually read, we felt that Benjamin Freeman’s op-ed was useful in reflecting on the question: “Why do the rich and powerful get away with murder?

Commenting on the Red Bull-Vorayuth Yoovidhya saga, Freeman states: “And so it goes in a country where the rich and powerful can get away with murder — literally so, as this case indicates.”

The author agrees with Pol Col Kissana Phathana-charoen who explained that dropping charges against the rich, Ferrari-driving, coked-up Vorayuth did not mean that the police were “applying double standards…”. Freeman observes:

We have to take him at his word. In order for there to be double standards, there need to be some real standards in the first place. But what exactly are the standards of Thailand’s law enforcement and judicial system?

Strikingly, he links (in)justice to broader political events:

This is a country, after all, where a citizen can be sentenced to long years in prison merely for exercising freedom of speech by making critical comments about the government or the monarchy on social media on grounds that doing so undermines national security.

Meanwhile, the generals that spearheaded a military coup to overthrow an elected government in 2014 not only do not need to fear any prosecution for what was an act of treason by international standards but they remain in charge of the country, acting as they please.

Freeman explains:

The system of justice in Thailand has long stayed mired in a regressive state where the laws apply only to those who don’t have enough money or influence to be able to flout them at will.

The result is a vastly unequal society where the “little people” remain under the thumb of the rich and powerful who can do as they please with no one to hold them to account.

He might have added that this inequality of wealth, power and justice is exactly what the tycoons want and is why they support dictators, military and monarchy.





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.”





Astounding legal action II

24 07 2020

PPT has had a couple of recent posts about the continuing double standards that define the politicized judiciary.

In the past day or so, however, we have seen another stupendously corrupt decision by regime authorities. As everyone now knows, the police have let it be known that the rich and powerful can literally get away with murder.

Well, readers will say we have known this from 1976, 1992, 2010 and other events where the military has gunned down citizens.

But the revoking of all “local and international arrest warrants … for Red Bull scion Vorayuth Yoovidhya after prosecutors dropped the last charge in his fatal hit-and-run case…”. is breathtaking because the police are accepting the murder of one of their own.

Party time for Boss (clipped from The Daily Mail)

Vorayuth, driving his Ferrari, struck and killed a motorcycle policeman in the early morning of 3 September in 2012 on Sukhumvit Road. After the driving his car over the policeman and dragging his body for a considerable distance under the car, Vorayuth hid behind the gates of the family mansion. Forensic police concluded he was driving at 177 kilometers per hour. He may have been drunk and/or drugged up at the time.

Known as Boss, as a fugitive, Vorayuth was reported to have at least two passports and a complex network of offshore bank accounts. Using these he lived a luxury life, traveling the world with impunity. He reportedly cruised Monaco’s harbor, snowboarded Japan, and celebrated his birthday at a swanky restaurant in London.

Now, Pol Col Kritsana Pattanacharoen, a spokesman for the Royal Thai Police Office, tannounced that prosecutors “decided late last month not to press the remaining charge of reckless driving causing death against Mr Vorayuth, and police agreed with the prosecutors.”

This means “police revoked local warrants for the arrest of Mr Vorayuth and told Interpol to lift its red notice…”. Police say that “Vorayuth could now return to Thailand without any problem.”

Wow! Breathtaking. Astounding.

Even more so when, as the Bangkok Post explains: “The National Anti-Corruption Commission earlier found police intention to exempt Mr Vorayuth, from prosecution on the charges.” Now they have.

There must be some who are now counting large piles of baht. Money and justice seem intertwined, and in a terribly corrupt way.