A Russian billionaire linked to the failed Waiwera thermal resort was deemed medically unfit to fly back from his homeland to New Zealand to face drink-driving charges today.
The news was delivered just before the start of the judge-alone trial of Mikhail Khimich and has again stalled the proceedings after a previous adjournment in November.
Judge Brooke Gibson said the long-running matter, which dates to alleged offending in 2016, had a "chequered history" on file.
While the not guilty pleas were entered during Khimich's second appearance, for "various reasons" the matter had not been able to proceed, the judge said.
According to the court documents which outlined the police case, Khimich was stopped in Auckland on September 14, 2016 after a complaint from a member of the public.
Police 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, the documents alleged.
The officer's statement read: "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."
Khimich was charged with refusing to undergo a blood specimen test despite being required to do so, and failing to supply identifying particulars while in police custody after his arrest.
The matter was then put forward for trial last November.
Judge Gibson said it appeared from the court file that the defendant did not appear on that occasion and, while it was indicated to the court he was ill, a warrant was issued.
However, the court was then satisfied the defendant had been hospitalised in Russia and a new date trial was allocated for May 1.
Today defence lawyer John Clearwater provided to the court a Russian medical certificate, accompanied by a translation, which indicated the defendant was unable to fly because of "medical complications".
Whilst the delay was "regrettable", on the face of the medical certificate Judge Gibson was "satisfied there is a reasonable excuse" for his absence.
The defence told the court Khimich was insufficiently proficient in English so was unable to understand what was required of him by police.
Judge Gibson said on that basis the "defendant will plainly need to give evidence". He remanded the matter to a callover in July.
Khimich has previously made headlines for his connection to the failed Waiwera thermal resort.
The resort, which also includes a water bottling plant, was leased to Khimich.
The landowners cancelled the lease in October because of unpaid bills dating back two years.
Khimich's company purchased the leasehold interest in the property in 2010.
He later gained New Zealand residency in 2013 but had been a generous benefactor to several sports, including horse racing, since first arriving in the country in 2008.
Khimich helped fund Team New Zealand's 2013 America's Cup campaign in San Francisco. He launched his premium vodka range at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in February 2012 and was the former part-owner of Russian oil company Naftasib.