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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
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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

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

Protests

K-Pop fan-funded billboards move from BTS and MRT stations to tuks tuks to support protesters

Caitlin Ashworth

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K-Pop fan-funded billboards move from BTS and MRT stations to tuks tuks to support protesters | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Twitter: @katipunera

K-Pop fan-funded “happy birthday” billboards are moving from mass transit stations in Bangkok to tuk tuks after the BTS Skytrain and MRT Bangkok Metro temporarily shut down services during pro-democracy protests last month.

The world’s K-Pop fans are weaponising their huge numbers and online ‘power’ by supporting Thailand’s pro-democracy movement. In 3 days last month, Thai and overseas K-pop fans raised more than 3 million baht to support the growing student-led movement calling on government and monarchy reform. A lot more has been raised since then.

A Thailand fan page for the South Korean K-Pop band BTS (not to be confused with Bangkok’s BTS Skytrain) urged fans to stop paying for the “happy birthday” billboards displayed in BTS and MRT stations. The fan-funded signs celebrate the birthdays of the 7 members of the band.

The band members also issued a statement asking their fans (known as ARMY) to stop paying for signs in the BTS and MRT stations because the mass transit systems “inconvenienced protesters and normal citizens from getting home and putting them in danger.”

The “happy birthday” signs have been seen on tuk tuks throughout Bangkok while some have posted photos of empty advertising space in the transit stations.

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways corruption, Southern floods, Border Covid outbreak | Dec 3

Tanutam Thawan

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Thailand News Today | Thai Airways corruption, Southern floods, Border Covid outbreak | Dec 3 | The Thaiger

Thursday’s edition of Thailand News Today, including the latest in the local cases popping up in Northern Thailand. Thailand’s most watched English language news.

20 more people suspected of being involved in corruption at Thai Airways

20 people are now under suspicion of corruption and mismanagement within Thai Airways as accountants unravel the massive losses for the airline, spanning a decade

The news, announced by police and deputy head of the commission investigating the airline, comes as little surprise to anyone who has been following the demise of Thailand’s legacy airline. The airline is tackling a debt of around 300 billion baht.

The story follows many other tales of corruption and bad deals that have been part of a larger puzzle that is now being unraveled by accounts and committees who are handling the airlines’ bankruptcy.

Now, 20 people are suspected of corruption in 6 different parts of the company’s management.

The investigation into alleged corruption at the airline started in August. In September, 18 documents showing evidence of corruption and mismanagement at the airline was submitted to the Finance Ministry, still a major shareholder for Thai Airways.

The airline’s decision to buy 10 Airbus A340 aircraft for 100 billion baht in 2004 was catastrophic. The airline lost money on every single flight of these aircraft. All but 1 of them have been decommissioned and stored at the U-Tapao airport.

2 infected Thai women took domestic flights after illegal crossing from Myanmar

2 Thai women, both infected with Covid-19, took domestic flights after entering the Kingdom illegally from Myanmar and bypassing health checks and quarantine.

A total of 10 Thai women have now tested positive for Covid-19 after crossing the border from Myanmar, several having worked in the same hotel and entertainment establishment in the Burmese border town opposite Mae Sai in Chiang Rai.

Health officials are tracking and tracing anyone who could have been in contact with the women, a number well into the 100s. Some have travelled to Chiang Mai and Bangkok.

Thai economists say new local Covid-19 cases will slow tourism recovery

Meanwhile, the National Economic and Social Development Council says that the mini outbreak in Northern Thailand will re-ignite fears of a second wave of infections in Thailand, stifling travel and tourism in the northern cities.

Operators already note that there has been a drop off of bookings and cancellations related to the publicity from the cross border infections. Airline bookings have also dropped off to both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.

Government to raise 5-year Elite visa fee by 20%, as foreigners flee Covid countries

As more foreigners opt for one of Thailand’s “elite” visas, allowing stays of between 5 and 20 years, and costing anything from 500,000 baht to 2 million, the most popular version is up for a price hike.

The cost of the 5-year “Easy Access” visa will go up by 20% from January, to 600,000 baht.

An additional 2,674 applicants signed up for an elite visa so far this year. That’s an increase of nearly 25%, with the scheme generating revenue of 1.6 billion baht.

By the end of September this year, over 11,100 people hold an elite visa in Thailand, as part of 9 different packages offered by Thailand Privilege Card.

Heavy rain wreaks havoc in flood-ravaged Nakhon Si Thammarat

The governor of Nakhon Si Thammarat has put the province on high alert, following 6 days of heavy rain in the southern province.

Nakhon Si Thammarat is directly east of Phuket, on the Gulf of Thailand.

Large swathes of land are underwater after extensive flooding that has affected tens of thousands of people in the region. Floods have been recorded in 351 villages in 15 districts, with some 48,000 people affected.

Heavy rain and flash flood warnings were issued for all southern provinces except Chumphon and Ranong

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Bangkok

Man shot and killed outside Bangkok restaurant

Caitlin Ashworth

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Man shot and killed outside Bangkok restaurant | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

A man was shot to death at a parking lot outside a restaurant in Bangkok’s Noi district. Police, accompanied by a doctor from the Siriraj Hospital, arrived at the scene around 2am this morning and found 49 year old Damrong Taweekkhet with 2 gunshot wounds in his chest.

Damrong, a fruit vendor, was chatting with his friends in the parking lot when a motorbike driver rode up and started arguing with Damrong, a witness told police. The driver allegedly pulled out a gun and shot it multiple times.

Police say they suspect the shooter is Damrong’s friend who had argued with him inside the restaurant prior to the shooting. Police are still looking for the suspect and say the motorbike was seen driving down Boromratchonnee Road.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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