Grandson of energy drinks founder accused in death
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/02/2012 -- The family of a Red Bull energy drink heir paid a dead police officer’s family roughly $95,000 in a settlement deal designed to avoid a civil lawsuit, according to Thai police.
Vorayuth Yoovidhya, 27, is accused of driving a Ferrari that hit the officer and dragged him along a Bangkok street.
Yoovidhya’s family paid the officer’s family 3 million baht ($94,890 Cdn), according to police Lt. Col. Viradon Thubthimdee. He said the settlement will protect Vorayuth, grandson of the late Red Bull founder Chaleo Yoovidhaya, from a civil lawsuit.
"We sometimes call this a 'funeral fee,’” said Viradon. “If the victim's party is satisfied with the amount of money, then they will not seek compensation through a court.”
While the payment might save the Yoovidhya family from paying higher civil penalties, it won’t necessarily protect Vorayuth from criminal charges of causing death by reckless driving and fleeing the scene. If convicted of that charge, he faces up to 10 years in jail and a fine of 20,000 baht ($632 Cdn).
Those following the case say the Red Bull family’s payment to the victim’s family will not calm a public outraged by the incident itself, as well as the initial arrest of a bogus suspect meant to cover up Vorayuth’s alleged involvement.
Forbes magazine ranked the family, with a net worth of $5.4 billion US, fourth-richest in the country this year. In addition to shares in the Red Bull brand, the family owns hospitals, real estate, and is the only authorized importer of Ferrari cars in Thailand.
"His wrecked Ferrari should have been sold and the money should be added to the compensation money," a Thai Web forum user wrote.
It is not unusual for wealthy people to escape punishment for crimes in Thailand.
Investigators await forensic test results before adding more charges, including drunk driving and drug use, against Vorayuth. A date has not been set for a trial.
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