The lack of action in the ‘Boss’ Vorayuth affair undermines confidence in the Rule of Law in Thailand. This is a notorious case that has received international press coverage because of the high-profile nature of the accused and the circumstances surrounding the death of a policeman on duty in September 2012. It remains to be seen if the new government of Srettha Thavisin will take up the issue or if it will continue to be ignored.
Amid a huge scandal and corruption case brewing over the operations of the Royal Thai Police in Nakhon Pathom, last week, the Prime Minister’s Office was also reminded of the ongoing controversy over the failure to arrest and prosecute the heir to the Red Bull fortune, a long-running sore which has significantly undermined confidence among the Thai public in the rule of law within the Kingdom. The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), last week, sent a report implicating the newly appointed Minister of Education, Police General Permpoon Chidchob, for a ‘minor’ role in the controversy from his time as a senior policeman during the affair. It has also come to light that Mr Vorayuth Yoovidhya or ‘Boss’ is currently not featured on the Interpol Red Notice list of fugitives wanted by authorities in Thailand despite being placed on it by the Royal Thai Police in October 2020.
On Wednesday, the Secretary General of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, Mr Niwatchai Kasemmongkol revealed that a file had been sent to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin concerning individuals examined by the Commission when dealing with the controversy over the Red Bull scion Vorayuth Yoovidhya or ‘Boss’, who fled Thailand in 2017 ahead of criminal charges and continues to evade arrest and prosecution for the killing of 47-year-old Police Sergeant Wichian Klanprasert on the Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok in the early hours of September 3rd, 2012.
One of those examined by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) and found to be at fault in the matter is the current Minister of Education, Police General Permpoon Chidchob, who was then a senior officer in the Royal Thai Police who had dealings in respect of the attempted prosecution of Mr Vorayuth.
Controversy blew up in 2020 when an attempt was made to drop all charges resulting in an explosive report to the PM confirming corruption at all levels
The controversy was the subject of a committee hearing before Parliament in 2020 after an assistant attorney general, Nate Natsuk, declined to pursue charges against the Red Bull heir and it subsequently emerged that attempts had been made to doctor the evidence in the case to suggest that blame for the incident lay with the deceased police officer.
This included efforts to deflect from Mr Vorayuth’s use of cocaine on the night preceding the incident and to suggest that his Ferrari supercar was travelling at a far slower pace.
At one point in July 2020, there were no charges against the then 30-year-old who would have been technically cleared to return home without fear of arrest.
Mr Vorayuth’s family is reputed to be one of the wealthiest in Thailand with a fortune generated by the Red Bull energy drink and worldwide brand.
Report prepared by former Corruption Commissioner in 2020 confirmed corruption was identified across the board over attempts to prosecute Boss
An explosive report on corruption delivered to the Prime Minister’s Office in August 2020 completed by Mr Vicha Mahakun, a former Anti-Corruption Commissioner, found extensive evidence of both failures of administration and corruption within the prosecution of the, by then 27-year-old Red Bull Air who fled Thailand after charges in connection with the death of the 47-year-old police officer were brought against him, five years after the policeman’s death.
These charges came just two days after he left Thailand on a private jet via Singapore on April 25th of that year.
Currently, only one charge against the accused is enforceable in respect of dangerous driving causing the death of the police officer with a charge for cocaine abuse having lapsed in 2022. This final charge lapses in 2027.
The report delivered to the Prime Minister’s Office in August 2020 has never been made public but it is accepted that a concerted effort by some of those involved in the case was made to reduce the scope and severity of charges against the accused.
Commission’s submission to the Prime Minister’s Office made under the 2018 anti-corruption law and a duty to report to the minister’s direct superior
This week, the National Anti-Corruption Commission which had already issued findings some years ago, even before the controversy arose anew in 2020, against a large number of officers within the force suggesting minor disciplinary action be pursued over the affair, commented that the issues it has raised concerning the newly appointed minister are of a minor nature, with Secretary-General, Mr Niwatchai, making it clear that the offences it identifies were not serious but were being only raised under the legal duty imposed by Section 64 of the Organic Act on the Prevention and Suppression of Corruption (2018), to the Prime Minister’s Office.
He highlighted that the determination by the body was not final and could be appealed with all those concerned having the right to prove their innocence in court.
The Boss Vorayuth or Red Bull scandal has bred widespread scepticism among the public in Thailand concerning the rule of law and the kingdom’s efforts to counter corruption.
Boss currently not listed on the Interpol Red Notice list of wanted people by Thai authorities published on the international police agency’s website
It emerged in 2020 that the fugitive, who is now 33 years old, was not listed on the Red List Notice published regularly by Interpol, despite assurances by the Royal Thai Police.
This was rectified when Mr Vorayuth’s name was again placed on the list and indeed for some time, it did appear on the international listing.
On Sunday, October 4th, 2020, a senior Royal Thai police spokesman confirmed that Mr Vorayuth’s name had been placed on the Red Notice list published by Interpol.
At the time, the officer repeated the determination of the police force to have the Red Bull scion arrested and brought back to Thailand to face charges.
Commission at pains to point out other people also cited in its report to the government including a former police chief and deputy attorney general
Currently, it appears that it has since been removed with the present Interpol listing showing only 15 Thai nationals, none of which is the young man who is heir to one of the kingdom’s largest fortunes.
On Thursday, the Secretary General of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, Mr Niwatchai, explained that its referral of the current Minister for Education to the Prime Minister’s office was only being made as Prime Minister Srettha was the minister’s direct superior out of fidelity to the 2018 law on prevention and suppression of corruption.
Mr Niwatchai also noted that the Commission had made findings against the former National Police Chief, Police General Somyot Phumphanmuang, Former Deputy Attorney General Nate Natsuk and a range of other officials including former senior prosecutors, police officers and a member of the current Senate.