May 5, 2017 / 12:41 PM / 4 months ago

Thailand revokes wanted Red Bull heir's passport over hit-and-run case

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand has revoked the passport of an heir to the Red Bull fortune who has been accused of a deadly hit-and-run but has several times failed to turn up in court.

Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya, 32, left Thailand for Singapore on April 25, two days before he had been ordered to report to prosecutors to be formally charged in court - the eighth time he has missed a summons since legal proceedings began in 2016.

Thai police on Thursday said Vorayuth had left Singapore after abandoning his private jet and disappeared.

He faces charges of speeding, hit-and-run and reckless driving causing death over an incident in 2012 when he allegedly crashed his black Ferrari into a policeman on a motorcycle in Bangkok and fled the scene, dragging the officer's body for several dozen metres with his car as he did so.

The case is being closely watched in Thailand where it has raised questions as to whether the justice system favours the rich and famous, allowing them to break the law with impunity.

"The foreign ministry has revoked Vorayuth's passport, effective immediately," ministry spokeswoman Busadee Santipitaks told Reuters on Friday.

Busadee declined to say whether Vorayuth held other passports.

An arrest warrant for Vorayuth was issued last week.

Vorayuth is a grandson of the late Chaleo Yoovidhya, creator of the Kratin Daeng, or Red Bull, energy drink.

Chaleo, 88, was listed as the third richest person in Thailand at the time of his death in 2012, with an estimated net worth of US$5 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

Vorayuth has spent much of the past five years abroad, including in London, where his family owns a home, and Singapore, according to social media posts.

He has previously cited work commitments abroad as a reason for not showing up in court.

Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Nick Macfie

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