The Securities and Exchange Commission said this week that it has charged a Napa, Calif., fund company with posting "outdated and misleading" performance data on its Web site.

The SEC said data that had been posted on the firm’s Web site showed returns of more than 400% from inception through March 10 of 2000. In fact, the SEC said that, following March 10 of that year, the fund’s total returns plummeted by more than half. The SEC said the data remained on the Web site until December of 2000.

The alleged gaffe prompted the commission to accuse Thurlow of violating federal securities laws that prohibit "misleading statements" from fund companies, and require performance figures used in advertising to be current to the most recent calendar quarter.

The SEC also said that it warned the company’s CEO, Thomas Thurlow, an attorney, about stale fund data on the firm’s Web site following a 1998 examination. "Yet, he nonetheless failed to keep the Web site updated," the commission said in a statement.

Thurlow agreed to pay a penalty of $20,000. The company also agreed to either abstain from posting performance history on its Web site or hire an "independent consultant" to ensure that performance history on the site complies with federal regulations. Thurlow neither admitted nor denied guilt in accepting the commission’s terms.

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