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Robert A Olins, the former chief executive of a display screens manufacturer, was said by a federal prosecutor to have carried out "a brazen shell game to deceive and hide assets". He is alleged to have made false statements about the value of antiques while secretly selling or planning to sell the works at far higher prices.

The charges stem from a $3.37m judgement against Olins made in 2011 relating to illegal stock sales.

US Attorney Preet Bharara said Olins had since "lied repeatedly, grossly understating what he received from the sale of valuable art and antiquities so that he could pocket money that should have gone to satisfy the court judgment".

According to the prosecutors' complaint filed in a Manhattan Federal Court, Olins conducted the scheme in coordination with an executive of an art and antiques dealership based in New York and London. The dealer, who remains uncharged, is not named in the complaint but is described as a "co-conspirator".

Two pieces from Olins' collection are mentioned specifically in the complaint: a Louis XV porcelain garniture of three vases and Louis XV gilt bronze dragon candelabra. In both cases Olins is alleged to have significantly understated what he received from the sales of the items.

Olins, arrested in Connecticut and released on August 26, has been charged with one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, one count of obstruction of justice, one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of bank fraud.

The investigation is continuing.