A MAN has pleaded guilty to being involved in the sale of a fake Egyptian statue to Bolton Council for more than £410,000.

Shaun Greenhalgh, aged 47, admitted his role in laundering the cash from the sale of the Amarna Princess statue, as well as passing off fake artworks to galleries and dealers over a 17-year period.

The 20-inch sculpture was originally believed to be 3,300 years old and worth £1 million when it went on display at Bolton Museum, but last year experts determined it to be fake.

Greenhalgh appeared at Bolton Crown Court yesterday, along with his father George, aged 83, his mother Olive, aged 82, and his older brother George, aged 52.

Shaun Greenhalgh pleaded guilty to conspiring with others between November, 2003, and March, 2006, to "conceal, disguise, convert or transfer £410,392, knowing that it represented the proceeds of criminal conduct, namely the sale of the Amarna Princess".

He also pleaded guilty to conspiring with others between June, 1989, and March, 2006, to defraud art and antique dealers, museums, auction houses, academic institutions, art galleries and other people.

He duped them into accepting forged work such as antiques, ancient artefacts or works of art said to be by particular artists.

The Amarna Princess, said to date back to 1350BC, apparently represented one of the daughters of Pharaoh Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti, the mother of King Tutankhamen.

It went on display in the town's museum in January, 2004, after first being featured in an exhibition at the Haywood Gallery in London, which was opened by the Queen.

The council bought it with a grant of £360,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, as well as £75,000 from the National Art Collections Fund and £2,500 from the Friends of Bolton Museum and Art Gallery.

Shaun Greenhalgh's father, George, and his mother, Olive, are charged with the same offences.

His brother, George, is accused of acquiring criminal property.

None of those entered pleas at the hearing.

The family of four, who live together in The Crescent, Bromley Cross, were given unconditional bail and are due to return to the court on September 7.

A preliminary trial date has been set for February, 2008.