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France to return Swiss HSBC private bank data

FRANCE will return client data stolen by a former employee of a Geneva branch of HSBC to Switzerland, a French justice official said, in a bid to ease tensions that could undermine an accord to fight tax evasion.

An official from the justice ministry in Paris said magistrates in the southern city of Aix-en-Provence would hand over the data, which was seized as part of an investigation into possible money laundering.

“The decision was taken today to return the data as soon as possible,” a ministry spokesman said. “The judges have confirmed with (Justice Minister) Michele Alliot-Marie that there was no impediment to their being returned.”

France’s use of the data has triggered a serious clash with Switzerland and threatened a bilateral taxation agreement that would ease the country’s strict banking secrecy laws.

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