Red Bull tycoon files lawsuit for 50 million baht over bribery claims

Photo courtesy of Forbes via The Financial Express

Red Bull energy drink magnate Chalerm Yoovidhya launched another defamation lawsuit, this time targeting a news outlet and four individuals, seeking 50 million baht in damages over bribery allegations.

Chalerm disputes claims made by Police Colonel Wirut Sirisawatibutr, a former police officer turned columnist for Sueb Jark Khao. The allegations suggest the tycoon paid a 300-million-baht bribe to shield his son, Vorayuth Yoovidhya aka Boss, from prosecution following a fatal incident in 2012 where Vorayuth hit a police officer on Sukhumvit Road near Thong Lor.

Chalerm’s lawyer, Ampol Kaewpan, yesterday filed a lawsuit at the Criminal Court, naming Sueb Jark Khao, Police Colonel Wirut, and three company board members as defendants.

According to the suit, Sueb Jark Khao published content on April 7 featuring comments by Pol. Col. Wirut that allegedly included false information about Vorayuth’s case. This content, shared on the company’s TikTok account, claimed the family paid up to 300 million baht in bribes to protect Vorayuth from prosecution in the notorious hit-and-run case. The content also included pictures and videos of Vorayuth, with the lawyer asserting the claims were baseless.

“The content tarnished the family’s reputation and was broadcast across various platforms, including Sueb Jark Khao’s website and TikTok account, where it has garnered over 6.4 million likes.”

Given the global reach of the company’s social media platforms, Ampol argued that the allegations have damaged the reputation and image of Chalerm and his businesses, which operate domestically and internationally.

Besides seeking 50 million baht in damages, the lawsuit demands an official public apology be published on Sueb Jark Khao’s website and social media channels for seven days. For the same duration, the apology must also appear in four Thai newspapers—ThaiRath, Daily News, Matichon, and Manager.

On May 28, Chalerm filed his first defamation lawsuit for 50 million baht against TV host Ubonrat Thaonoi, senator, and former Metropolitan Police Bureau chief Police Lieutenant General Sanit Mahathavorn over similar allegations, reported Bangkok Post.

Vorayuth has been evading authorities since he hit a police officer with his Ferrari on September 3, 2012. Several charges against him have since been dropped, with the last charge of reckless driving causing death set to expire in 2027.

ORIGINAL STORY: Red Bull family sues for defamation after son’s hit and run incident

Chalerm Yoovidhya, the son of the Red Bull co-founder, has initiated legal proceedings against a TV presenter and former police lieutenant colonel for defamation, seeking compensation of 50 million baht. The accusations stem from statements implicating him in the alleged use of 300 million baht to sway favour towards his son, Vorayuth ‘Boss’ Yoovidhya, after a fatal hit-and-run incident.

Represented by attorney Ampol Kaewpan, Chalerm, a prominent Thai billionaire businessman, claims that TV host Ubonrat Thao Noi and Police Lieutenant Colonel Sanit Mahathavorn made defamatory statements on a television programme.

These statements accused Chalerm of using 300 million baht in lobbying efforts to assist his son, the Red Bull heir, Boss, in evading charges related to a fatal hit-and-run incident with a police officer, before fleeing the country in a private jet to avoid repercussions, in what critics may describe as impunity enjoyed by the super-rich of the kingdom.

The lawsuit alleges that aired content on February 29 by the TV host suggested that Chalerm’s alleged financial efforts failed to significantly aid his son’s legal situation.

The recorded audio and video clips were subsequently distributed on the social media platform TikTok, with over 1.4 million views, amplifying the reach of the allegations.

The legal petition argues that these statements have damaged Chalerm’s reputation and subjected him to public contempt and hatred.

Chalerm requests a public apology from the two defendants to be published on their respective social media platforms and the front page of major Thai news outlets for seven consecutive days, alongside the removal of the defamatory content.

The Criminal Court accepted the case, scheduling a preliminary examination hearing for September 2. Ampol emphasises that the damages sought are commensurate with Chalerm’s reputation and the seriousness of the allegations.

He further stated that there would be no settlement, indicating a firm commitment to pursue legal recourse against what his client perceives as distortions of facts surrounding his son’s case.

Ampol affirms that similar legal measures will be taken against individuals found to disseminate misleading information. Witnesses are prepared to testify at the forthcoming preliminary examination hearing, highlighting the gravity of the case, reported Khaosod.

This legal action underscores Chalerm’s determination to protect his family’s reputation and integrity, despite the clear objectivity of the facts surrounding the tragic incident, and Boss’ subsequent fleeing from the country.

Bangkok NewsCrime NewsThailand News

Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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