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

Tanutam Thawan

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

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

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

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Central Thailand

3 killed as car skids into canal

Greeley Pulitzer

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3 killed as car skids into canal | The Thaiger

A man and two women were killed after a car skidded off a road and plunged into a roadside canal in Phimai district of Nakhon Ratchasima on Sunday afternoon, according to police.

Police and rescuers rushed to the scene after being informed of the accident, which occurred at about 2.50pm.

At the scene, they found Toyota car submerged upside down in the water. Three people — a man and two women — had been pulled out of the car by a passerby who stopped on seeing a 14-year-old girl waving for help.

3 killed as car skids into canal | News by The Thaiger

Photo:สื่อสารดับเพลิงกู้ภัย

The rescuers performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on the man and the women, but found they had already died.

The girl, Parichat Kwanruan, was the only survivor. She told police the car was headed from Non Daeng district to Ban Chong Maew village in Phimai district. On the way, she fell asleep, waking up when the car plunged into the canal.

3 killed as car skids into canal | News by The Thaiger

Photo:สื่อสารดับเพลิงกู้ภัย

She managed to get out of the car and wave for help when she saw the passerby driving past the spot. He extracted the other three occupants of the car and called police.

 

SOURCE: https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1776329/3-killed-in-korat-as-car-skids-into-canal

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Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

Tanutam Thawan

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Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.

SOURCE: AFP

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

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Business

500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies

Greeley Pulitzer

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500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies | The Thaiger

Roughly 36% of Thailand’s corporate equity is held by just 500 people, highlighting wealth inequality in the Kingdom, according to a study released by the Bank of Thailand’s research institute.

Each of these 500 amass some 3.1 billion baht (102 million USD) per year in company profits, according to the report from the Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research. In contrast, average yearly household income in Thailand is around 10,000 USD.

A report out this week from the Economic and Business Research Centre for Reform at Thailand’s Rangsit University also pointed to divisive and polarised politics being another root cause of the economic divide.

Thailand’s private sector is dominated by tycoons running sprawling conglomerates. According to the World Bank, the gap between the mega-wealthy and the rest of the Thai population of 69 million is among the many economic challenges for Thailand. According to Bloomberg, the perception of a divide, exacerbated by an economic slowdown, is a major political fault line.

“Magnates arise in Thailand from institutional factors that privilege certain businesses,” said the executive director of PIER, author of the study.

The institute said Thailand needs to promote competitiveness to reduce profits from monopoly power and bolster entrepreneurship to create a more equitable distribution of corporate wealth.

The research is based on analysis of 2017 Commerce Ministry data on the 2.1 million shareholders in Thai firms, and was funded by the University of California San Diego.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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