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Heir today, gone tomorrow. Tracking down Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya.

Tanutam Thawan

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The disappearance of difficult-to-find Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya is not a simple police conspiracy to ‘protect’ the hi-so heir to the Red Bull fortune. There is a complex web of strategies by the Yoovidhya family to make sure he is difficult to track down – not just Boss but the whole family, and their money.

The Bangkok billionaire family responsible for co-founding Red Bull, the sugary energy drink and world top-seller, uses offshore companies to hide the purchase of their jets and luxury properties. This includes the family’s fancy London digs where  Boss was last seen, and photographed, by an Associated Press reporter.

But, to be clear, the family are not doing anything illegal. Moving assets offshore plus some clever accounting can operate entirely within the law, an indication of how easily the biggest players can move their fortunes around and, usually legally, avoid paying a lot of tax and keeping their whereabouts secret.

In the case of the Yoovidhya clan, their confidential world network of financial dealings came to light as the media and officials started to track down the fugitive son. He remains on the run after failing to show up to Court to answer charges relating to a hit and run back in 2012 when the Ferrari he was driving hit a traffic policemen, killing him instantly, dragging the body along the road and then driving home rather than reporting the incident to police.

Hundreds of Instagram and Facebook postings led The Associated Press reporter to the Yoovidhyas’ London vacation home. They seemed to be able to do what the Thai Police couldn’t – locate the fugitive. Since then, Thai authorities have revoked his passport and issued an arrest warrant, but claim they currently have no idea where he is. Just two weeks ago the final paperwork to submit the arrest warrant through Interpol was stalled when the ‘address’ section of the paperwork was missing. This followed a comedy of errors when it took four months to translate the Thai warrant into English.

The investigation into Vorayuth’s location also, inadvertently, led to the Panama Papers, a collection of 11 million secret financial documents showing how the world’s wealthiest families hide their money and shuffle it around through a web of slick paperwork and skilled international accountanting. The Yoovidhya family’s financial arrangements were exposed in the Panama Papers when they were leaked by the German newspaper Sudeutsche Zeitung. The powerful and wealthy in 70 countries were exposed as journalists started sifting through the fine print of the documents.

The Yoovidhya family’s network of offshore companies, set up by Mossack Fonseca (a ‘leading global provider for legal and trust services’ according to their Google listing), was so intricate that, until now, they’ve managed to keep the family name and Red Bull brand out of the spotlight

We now know that the Yoovidhya family has at least six offshore, anonymous companies. Their assets have been heading offshore to tax havens for up to 20 years. Again, none of this is illegal and is ubiquitous for the wealthy around the world to use shell companies and tax havens to keep the tax man, governments, police and prying journalists at bay.

Since 2012, Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya has repeatedly failed to show up when ordered to face criminal charges of speeding, hit-and-run, and reckless driving causing death. Thai, world media, and local social media, have not been lenient on the 32 year old Red Bull heir. The common theme is that wealth and fame can buy your freedom in Thailand and that the police have either been incompetent or colluded with his inability to turn up to Court hearings.

The last time Boss was seen was in April at his London home, tracked down by a reporter with no more than a laptop, Facebook and some persistence. The AP reporter also showed that, in the years since the fatal accident, Boss had been travelling the world in the family’s private jets, going to Red Bull events and enjoying the high-life in the world’s most expensive cities and holiday locations.

Even if Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya never returns to Thailand to answer the charges against him, the legacy of this case is a general outcry from ordinary Thai people that the rich and famous need to be treated just the same as everyone else – for a change. The media has also exposed the investigating police officers to ridicule where a sole reporter and a few days work was able to do something the entire Royal Thai Police force couldn’t.

PHOTO: Toronto Sun

- Tanutam Thawan

Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.

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National

Same-sex civil union bill ready for Cabinet in two months

The Thaiger & The Nation

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A same-sex civil partnership law should be drafted and discussed before next year’s elections.

Pitikarn Sitthidech, the Rights and Liberties Protection Department chief, saystThe law, allowing same-sex couples to formally register as life partners, should be drafted by September.

It would then be submitted to Deputy PM and Justice Minister ACM Prajin Juntong, who would decide whether it should go to the Cabinet, she said.

Pitikarn says the sub-panel drafting the legislation that’s been hailed by some as a progressive step towards the legalisation of gay marriage would meet on July 25 to review its 63 articles. Panel members were likely to make adjustments, she said, some based on the experiences of other countries that have adopted similar legislation, such as Mexico, South Africa, Canada, Australia and Britain.


Pitikarn Sitthidech – Rights and Liberties Protection Department chief 

The bill will then be forwarded to the Rights Department’s law development committee for further tweaking in September, and then to Prajin, Pitikarn said. She pointed out that the process in some countries had taken up to 10 years, but Prajin wanted to fast-track Thailand’s version because of the many LGBT (lesbian, gay, transgendered and bisexual) citizens who deserve the same rights as everyone else.

Pitikarn said Prajin had insisted that the authors of the legislation understand the situation in society well and the sensitivities involved. He wanted guidelines set out to support the status of same-sex life partners registered in other countries who were now living in Thailand to ensure they enjoyed the rights to which they were entitled.

Prajin wanted it made clear which agency would handle registrations once the law comes into effect. And he expects the law to lay the foundation for the legalisation of gay marriage.

“Since the ministry began moving forward on this law, we have received good feedback from the LGBT community and a 60,000-name petition expressing support for the action, as well as much useful information,” Pitikarn said.

“I believe many more people are passively supporting this law – the many who haven’t yet expressed their LGBT status.”

SOURCE: The Nation

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National

Floods continue to cause havoc in the north, west and central

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Floods are causing havoc across swathes of provinces across Thailand. From the north in Chiang Mai, to the west in Kanchanaburi and as far south as Prachuap Khiri Khan and Ranong.

The Thai Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation chief says that the flooding has been triggered by tropical storm Son-Tinh which still sits over Laos, so far affecting 13 Thai provinces and 2,369 families between July 17 and today (July 22).

Director-general Chayapol Thitisak said 23 districts witnessed flooding and in some cases landslides in Kanchanaburi, Tak, Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son, Phichit, Nakhon Sawan, Trat, Phrae, Phetchabun, Phitsanulok, Ranong, Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Conditions have normalised in 10 provinces, he said, but there is still flooding in six districts in three provinces.

In Kanchanaburi’s Sangkhla Buri district, 400 families are affected, in Tak’s Mae Ramat, Phop Phra, Tha Song Yang and Umphang districts 80 families, and in Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Hua Hin district another 80 families, though the water level is decreasing.

Next cause for concern, says the Meteorological Department, is a tropical depression over the upper South China Sea that’s moving towards the upper Philippines at a maximum sustained wind speed of 55 kilometres per hour.

It will not affect Thailand directly, the department predicted, but travellers should monitor the situation if they are travelling in these regions.

“The southwest monsoon over the Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand is also strong, creating waves up to three metres high”, it says.

“Ships should proceed with caution and small boats should stay ashore”.

Chayapol said he had contacted officials in provinces in the East and upper South to be prepared in case of flooding or seaborne mishaps.

STORY: The Nation

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Business

Boeing says Asian region biggest growth area for aviation in next two decades

Tanutam Thawan

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By Data Leads. PHOTO: Thai Airways Boeing 787

Asian countries are estimated to require 16,930 more airplanes by 2037, making the region the fastest growing aviation area in the world.

Boeing’s annual forecast, the Commercial Market Outlook, reveals that the world fleet of jet planes would need 42, 370 new planes valued at US$6.3 trillion. The forecast predicts that the global demand for commercial aviation services will create a market opportunity of US$15 trillion.

According to Boeing the region operators will demand 40 per cent of passenger jet deliveries in the next twenty years, more than double the amount as compared to other regions.

China will be a key player in Asia that will contribute to Boeing’s growing business in the region. Analysts predict that China’s growing middle class will eventually lead to the country overtaking the U.S. within 10 to 15 years as the largest domestic airplane passenger market in the world.  Airplane demands will be highest in the region at 16,930 deliveries valued at US$ 3, 365 billion.

North America is predicted to have second highest demand of airplanes with the requirement of 8,800 deliveries valued at US$1,850 billion.  The aviation industry in the region has been experiencing a steady growth in the last few years. Boeing forecasts that the total fleets will increase 44 per cent in the next twenty years.

Europe will be the third highest region in terms of demand of airplanes and estimated profit that it generates. Edging close to North America, the region is estimated to demand 8,490 airplanes in the coming twenty years. The market value is estimated to be US$ 1,240 billion.

Latin America and Middle East will see the demand in fleet deliveries at 3,040 and 2,990 respectively. The market value is estimated to be US$ 360 billion and US$ 745 billion respectively.  Russia, CIS and African region will see low demand as compared to other regions.  The market value is projected to be US$ 265 and US$ 215 billion respectively.

The Commercial Market Outlook is the longest running jet forecast and considered  as the most comprehensive analysis of the commercial aviation industry.

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