A U.S. regulator charged two financial firms and three individuals with violating federal securities fraud laws over an alleged portfolio pumping scheme to manipulate prices of several small U.S. stocks, generating more than $63 million of illegal proceeds.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said it filed civil charges against Hunter World Markets Inc, a Beverly Hills, California-based broker-dealer and principals Todd Ficeto and Florian Homm.

Also charged were Colin Heatherington, a hedge fund trader who lives in Canada, and Hunter Advisors LLC, a company controlled by Ficeto, the SEC said.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Andre Grenon)