HSBC's Swiss-based private banking arm has agreed to pay $12.5 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle charges that it violated federal securities laws by providing unregistered cross-border brokerage and investment advisory services to U.S. clients, the securities industry regulator announced Tuesday.

According to the SEC, relationship managers with HSBC Private Bank traveled to the U.S. to solicit clients, provide investment advice and induce securities transactions even though they were neither registered to provide such services nor affiliated with a registered investment adviser or broker-dealer. They also communicated directly with U.S. clients through overseas mail and emails, the SEC contends.

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