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Curious accusation in Philadelphia

We were playing in a matchpoint pairs event (no screens) at the recent NABC against well-known opponents. My partner and I were having a constructive unopposed auction. I had just bid a passable 3NT but my partner with considerable undisclosed extras went into a long trance. After about 2 or 3 minutes, my LHO -- a household name and former Bermuda Bowl winner -- turned to me and said literally "what you are doing is illegal". I was puzzled and he went on to tell me that I was not allowed to hold my cards below the level of the table since it sent the message that I wanted him to pass. I did not even realize where I held my cards, I did in fact not want him to pass since I was maximum for my 3NT bid and I found the comment not only insulting bit also factually wrong.

I do of course realize that it is unethical to try and indicate a course of action to partner, by making facial expressions or other mannerisms, but I believe that holding my hand below table level (I suppose I do this all the time without thinking about it) is hardly illegal.

Partner did in fact find another bid, there was no damage done.

Any comments?

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