The administrators of a Utah college savings plan have settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission for issuing false and misleading information, though the fund's former director will be charged with misappropriating funds.
According to charges filed by federal investigators Thursday, the former director of the Utah Educational Savings Plan Trust, Dale Hatch, transferred more than $500,000 of investors' funds into his own plan accounts and then transferred $85,000 to his personal bank accounts.
The SEC has said that Hatch was able to carry out the fraud due to weak internal accounting controls that failed to allocate gains and losses to investor accounts.
The full extent of Hatch's actions were revealed as the SEC investigated complaints that the Utah trust made false claims in a 2004 press release that no investor funds were misappropriated nor had any investors been harmed by Hatch's actions.
The trust administers Utah's 529 plan, an investment vehicle that allows people to save for educational expenses without paying certain taxes, and agreed to "undertake specific measure to correct the defects," according to an SEC statement. The charges were the SEC's first against a 529 plan, and the SEC also issued a guide that explains the basic information investors should know before they start saving for college. The guide, available at www.sec.gov/investor/pubs/intro529.htm, discusses different types of college savings plans, including their disclosures, tax implications, and fees and expenses.
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