Charges against a former Russian oil mogul have been dismissed after a bizarre and nearly four-year drink-driving case dragged on and continued "costing the taxpayer money".
It is also not the first time Mikhail Khimich has had such criminal allegations thrown out of court, as he refuses to return to New Zealand from Moscow due to medical fears.
Khimich, who made headlines here for his connection to the failed Waiwera thermal resort, had his name called again yesterdayin courtroom two at the Auckland District Court.
Once more, however, hewas not there to answer.
His attendance was excused after claims he will develop thrombosis if he flies back to appear in court.
But this time, instead of adding to the lengthy list of postponements, the Russian's lawyer John Clearwater indicated police were withdrawing the charges.
Police did and the charges were then formally dismissed against the 61-year-old who was the former part-owner and executive of oil company and Russian military supplier Naftasib.
At the last hearing in February, Judge Peter Butler was asked by police to issue a warrant for Khimich so he could be arrested at the border if he ever returned.
However, the judge said he had written on his notes about the case: "What is the point?"
"This matter will never come back to New Zealand. He will probably die in Russia," the judge said of the businessman whose wealth has reported to have been in the billions.
"It is costing the taxpayer money for this thing to carry on."
In a minute released to the Herald, Judge Butler also suggested the best course of action was for police to withdraw the charges against Khimich, who helped fund Team New Zealand's 2013 America's Cup campaign in San Francisco.
"The prosecution are understandably loathe to do that and point out to me that if they do that and if the defendant returned to New Zealand at some future date, the matter would be time-barred from being laid again. I accept that but that does not change the situation as I see it," Judge Butler said.
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The Russian's court proceedings began after he was stopped by police while driving on Auckland's Tamaki Drive in September 2016 after a member of the public complained.
Police then charged him with refusing to undergo a blood specimen test and of failing to supply identifying particulars, namely a photograph and fingerprints, while in police custody after his arrest, the Herald later revealed.
After the constable who pulled Khimich over noted he had "glazed and bloodshot eyes", court documents obtained by the Herald show.
The officer's statement also said: "Khimich's actions were clumsy, he opened the rear passenger's door into his own hand.
"I asked Khimich if he had been drinking at all. He gestured to me with his thumb and forefinger that he had drunk a little bit.
"While waiting for the road policing officer to arrive, Khimich said that he had been drinking rum in the city."
Khimich was then told to wait by his car while another police officer brought a breath-testing device, which took about half an hour, court papers read.
When the second officer arrived "Khimich stumbled over his own feet", police claimed.
In 2018, Khimich asked the High Court to rule on the admissibility of the evidence in his case.
He claimed there was no legality during the period he was detained and waiting for a breath-screening test, as police sought a testing device from another officer.
He further argued his alleged refusal to provide a blood specimen and identifying particulars should also be excluded as evidence.
Justice Mathew Downs, however, dismissed the challenge and ruled a judge-alone trial must proceed if Khimich maintained his not-guilty pleas.
A trial was scheduled for November 2018 but adjourned again until May last year, when the court heard "medical complications" prevented Khimich from flying back from Russia.
Clearwater said his client had a "risk of thrombosis" if he flew.
Judge Andrea Manuel said if Khimich was fit to return to New Zealand he would stand trial or could appear via video link.
However, Judge Butler said in his minute last month that a Russian medical certificate showed Khimich's health was "an indefinite status rather than something that will be cured with the passage of time".
It appeared, he said, to be a "perfectly valid medical certificate".
Clearwater has said a potential defence to the charges would have been Khimich's lack of proficiency with the English language and his lack of understanding with what police required of him.
It would have been an almost identical defence to a 2014 court case, which saw another drink-driving charge dropped against Khimich.
In November 2013, Khimich blew nearly one and a half times over the limit when his Porsche was stopped for speeding on the Auckland Harbour Bridge, court papers show.
But the case was dismissed after a judge ruled police failed to inform Khimich of his rights because of language difficulties.
"I deeply regret the whole incident and I am determined to contribute positively to New Zealand as a law-abiding, productive member of New Zealand society," Khimich said in a statement after the earlier court case.
"To avoid such an incident ever occurring again, I am currently taking driving lessons so as to improve my driving skills."
Also in 2014, a former employee of Khimich's, ex-KGB bioterrorism expert Alexander Kouzminov, escaped a conviction for drink-driving despite testing more than twice legal limit.
His conviction was overturned after his lawyer argued he would lose the right to travel overseas as a consultant for several foreign intelligence agencies.
Khimich gained New Zealand residency in 2013 and has been a generous benefactor to several sports and horse racing since arriving in the country in 2008.
The once popular Waiwera thermal resort north of Auckland, which also includes a water bottling plant, was leased to Khimich but cancelled by landowners in 2018 because of unpaid bills dating back two years.
Khimich's company had purchased the leasehold interest in the property in 2010. In 2012 he also launched a premium vodka range at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.
Khimich is the sole director and shareholder of the Waiwera Group business which is no longer operating from the waterfront properties in the seaside town.
The parent company Waiwera Group's associated companies Waiwera Thermal Resort, Waiwera Water New Zealand and Waiwera Global are all now in liquidation.
Khimich, meanwhile, was declared bankrupt in New Zealand.