The trial of a former Russian oil mogul for alleged drink-driving has been postponed again amid claims he will develop thrombosis if he flies back to NZ to appear in court.
Mikhail Khimich, whose wealth has reported to have been in the billions, is still entangled in court proceedings nearly three years after being stopped by police while driving in Auckland.
The 60-year-old faces a charge of 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.
A trial was due to be held last November but was adjourned until May.
But at the May hearing, the court heard "medical complications" prevented Khimich from flying back from Russia to New Zealand.
Today, Khimich was again absent from his hearing in the Auckland District Court.
His lawyer John Clearwater said: "My client's in a pretty serious situation medically."
The court heard the former part-owner of Russian oil company Naftasib had a "risk of thrombosis" if he flew but his condition had improved.
Judge Andrea Manuel said if Khimich was fit to return to New Zealand he would stand trial or could appear via video link.
The case will next be called in December for a trial date to be set, with Khimich's attendance for that hearing excused.
The case against Khimich stemmed from a complaint from a member of the public about his driving along Tamaki Drive in September 2016, court documents obtained by the Herald show.
Police stopped him and asked him to turn off his engine and hand over his keys.
The constable who pulled Khimich over noted he had "glazed and bloodshot eyes", and Khimich told the officer he had been drinking rum, court documents read.
The officer's statement 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 while another police officer brought a breath-testing device, which took about half an hour.
When the second officer arrived "Khimich stumbled over his own feet", police claimed.
The Russian businessman, who was a top executive for the Russian military supplier Naftasib when based in Moscow, had sought to have the case thrown out.
Last year on appeal he 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 maintains his not-guilty pleas.
Clearwater has said his client's potential defence to the charges would be his lack of proficiency with the English language, which meant he was unable to understand what police required of him.
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.
He has also made headlines in recent years for his connection to the once popular and now failed Waiwera thermal resort north of Auckland.
The resort, which also includes a water bottling plant, was leased to Khimich but landowners cancelled the lease in October last year because of unpaid bills dating back two years.
Khimich's company had purchased the leasehold interest in the property in 2010.
He also helped fund Team New Zealand's 2013 America's Cup campaign in San Francisco and launched his premium vodka range at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in February 2012.