Red Bull Boss Sues Senator for Defamation Over Son’s Scandal

Chalerm Yoovidhya, the Red Bull energy drink tycoon, has filed a 50-million-baht defamation lawsuit against a senator and a TV host over bribery allegations.

Mr. Chalerm is unhappy about a talk show claim that his family paid a 300-million-baht bribe to protect his son, Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, from prosecution after a 2012 incident where his Ferrari fatally hit a Thong Lor police officer.

Ampol Kaewpan, Mr. Chalerm’s lawyer, filed the defamation suit on Tuesday at the Criminal Court against TV host Ubonrat Thaonoi and Pol Lt Gen Sanit Mahathavorn, a senator and former Metropolitan Police Bureau chief, seeking 50 million baht in compensation.

Mr. Chalerm and the Yoovidhya family hold the second spot on Forbes magazine’s “Thailand’s 50 Richest” list, with a net worth estimated at $33.4 billion as of July 2023.

On the February 29 talk show, Pol Lt Gen Sanit was invited to discuss the notorious hit-and-run case involving Red Bull heir Vorayuth.

Mr. Ampol told the media that during the show, an allegation was made that the Yoovidhya family paid about 300 million baht to save Mr. Vorayuth. Some segments were later shared on TikTok.

The lawyer stated the allegation was baseless and distorted, harming the Yoovidhya family’s reputation.

Mr. Ampol is also seeking a court order for the two defendants to face charges of colluding in disseminating false advertisements. He urged them to issue an apology on the website, news program, TikTok, and in full-page newspaper advertisements for seven consecutive days.

He also demanded the defendants remove the video from TikTok immediately, warning that netizens commenting on the video in ways that could damage Mr. Chalerm’s reputation might face legal action.

Mr. Vorayuth has been on the run since his Ferrari struck and killed a Thong Lor police officer on September 3, 2012.

Several charges against him have been dropped, including a speeding charge in 2013 and another for failing to help a crash victim in 2017.

The remaining charge is reckless driving causing death, carrying a penalty of up to 10 years in jail and a statute of limitations that expires in 2027.