NZ seizes $131m from bitcoin fraud suspect

Alexander Vinnik is accused of laundering billions through a digital currency exchange

New Zealand police have seized $NZ140 million ($A131 million) from a Russian bitcoin fraud suspect who is in French custody but is also wanted in the United States.

Commissioner Andrew Coster says New Zealand police have worked closely with the US Internal Revenue Service in the case involving Alexander Vinnik.

Coster says the money likely reflected illicit profits from thousands of victims. It is the most ever seized by New Zealand police.

The US has accused Vinnik of laundering billions of dollars through BTC-e, one of the world's largest digital currency exchanges. His native Russia also wants to put him on trial.

Vinnik says he acted as a technical consultant to the BTC-e platform and had no knowledge of any illegal activity.

He was arrested in the summer of 2017 while on a family holiday in northern Greece, at the request of US authorities.

After a two-year legal tug-of-war, Vinnik was extradited from Greece to France. French officials in January filed preliminary charges of money laundering and extortion against him.

He denies any wrongdoing and was on hunger strike for 35 days to protest his extradition to France.

He wanted to go to Russia instead, where he faces lesser charges. Vinnik's lawyer said her client was hospitalised upon arrival in France because of the hunger strike.

Greek authorities had ruled that Vinnik should be extradited first to France, then to the US and finally to Russia.

New Zealand police said on Monday they had restrained $NZ140 million from Canton Business Corporation and its owner, Vinnik, who were holding funds in a New Zealand company.