SEC settles fraud charges against investment advisor 

The Securities and Exchange Commission has settled charges of fraud against Stinson Beach-based Financial Design Associates Inc. and its president Albert L. Coles, Jr.

The firm allegedly misled clients and federal authorities by representing to them that it was a "fee-only" advisor when in fact it received commissions for placing them into a particular investment with a mortgage finance company, according to the SEC.

Coles and the firm have agreed to a settlement without admitting or denying the allegations, and will pay more than $361,307 in undisclosed commissions as well as a $40,000 civil penalty.

The firm, which manages around $85 million in client funds, allegedly received $361,307 in commissions and interest between 2002 and 2006 for client referrals under the agreement with the mortgage finance company.

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