Data leaked from HSBC's Swiss private banking unit has sparked investigations in several countries Reuters/Carlos Barria

HSBC has agreed to pay €300m (£270m) to French authorities to settle allegations that its Swiss private banking unit helped wealthy clients avoid taxes.

The national financial prosecutor's office (PNF) in Paris, which investigates economic crimes, said more than €1.6bn of assets were involved in the alleged scheme.

The settlement is the first reached under the terms of a new French law introduced last year, which allow companies to settle without any finding of guilt.

"The investigation regarding HSBC Holdings has been dismissed," HSBC said in a statement released to the Reuters agency.

"HSBC has publicly acknowledged historical control weaknesses at the Swiss private bank on a number of occasions and has taken firm steps to address them."

The French investigation into HSBC began after a former IT employee at the bank leaked thousands of client files from 2006 and 2007.

The PNF said that two unnamed former directors of HSBC's Swiss banking unit are subject to possible legal action.