The High Court in Auckland has heard a man facing charges relating to Dominion Finance and North South Finance may not live to stand trial.
Terence Butler, a former director of the failed finance companies, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and his lawyer says he may have only nine to 24 months to live.
Also charged are former director Robert Whale, former Dominion Finance chief executive Paul Cropp and another person who has name suppression.
The Serious Fraud Office says they participated in unauthorised related party lending totalling more than $20 million between 2004 and 2008, in breach of the trust deeds of both firms.
They face a total of 14 charges under the Crimes Act.
At the High Court on Wednesday, all the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges. They are due to stand trial in February next year.
Dominion Finance was placed into voluntary receivership in 2008, and receivers were appointed to North South last year.
The two firms and its parent, Dominion Finance Group, which was placed in receivership in 2008, owe $400 million to about 6000 investors.