Police are expecting to shortly issue an arrest warrant and lay a formal charge against former rugby league star Brent Todd in connection with the so-called celebrity drug ring.
Todd, who has been named in court documents as a joint offender in supplying cocaine and cannabis, has not yet been formally charged and is still in Australia. He has denied buying, selling or supplying prohibited drugs.
Detective senior sergeant Mark Osbourne said police were still negotiating with lawyers, but it was likely a charge would be laid soon against the former Kiwi and Canberra Raider.
"We didn't want it to be a big media fiasco. We just wanted him to come back off his own bat," Mr Osbourne said.
"But we are going to plan B now. We are just going to lay the charge and seek a warrant for his arrest."
However, police confirmed they still had no plans to extradite Todd.
It means that so long as he was in Australia he would not face the New Zealand judicial system.
Mr Osbourne said any charge would not be serious enough to warrant an extradition order.
But Todd would be arrested as soon as he set foot in New Zealand.
Mr Osbourne said there were a lot of people currently facing charges in New Zealand who chose to live out of the country to avoid court.
But in this case police were expecting Todd to return home.
"I'm assuming he will come back at some stage because he has interests over here," Mr Osbourne said.
However, Todd's lawyer John Billington QC said he was not aware of any negotiations with police and hadn't recently had any conversation with Todd.
"You can't negotiate when someone hasn't committed any offence. He hasn't done anything. He hasn't bought or sold any drugs.
"It's a storm in a tea-cup from where I sit."
Mr Billington said Todd was still living in Australia and had no plans to return to New Zealand.
Auckland University law lecturer Scott Optican, commenting on the case, said police would not extradite Todd because of the cost and time it took.
He suspected that police wanted to get to the scenario where Todd would "plead guilty to something" in the hope of avoiding a costly and lengthy extradition.
"Taxpayer money isn't wasted, the police do their job; Todd comes back, faces the charges and gets on with his life."
Todd was one of six men caught up in the widely reported white-collar celebrity drug scandal.
Another was fellow former sportsman and TV celebrity Marc Ellis.
Ellis was later charged with possessing the class B drug ecstasy and fined $300.
- HERALD ON SUNDAY