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Swiss banks asked to hand over more data in U.S. tax case: paper

The exterior of the U.S. Department of Justice headquarters building in Washington, July 14, 2009. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

ZURICH (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has requested more information from around 40 Swiss banks taking part in a program to make amends for possibly aiding tax evasion by wealthy Americans, a Swiss newspaper reported on Thursday.

About 100 Swiss banks signed up to work with U.S. authorities at the end of last year in a program brokered by the Swiss government. That followed criminal investigations of roughly a dozen Swiss banks in the United States.

Under the program, so-called "category two" banks -- those that have reason to believe they may have committed tax offences -- will escape prosecution if they detail their wrongdoing with U.S. clients and pay fines.

U.S. investigators requested that around 40 of the 90 banks still in the program provide further clarification and information, Swiss newspaper Handelszeitung reported without citing sources.

The other 50 or so banks have been deemed unproblematic by the DOJ, the paper said, but will now likely have to wait until spring of next year to settle their cases along with those providing additional information.

Additional requests were made in October to banks with a large number of U.S. clients with untaxed assets or who displayed suspicious services to clients, Handelszeitung reported.

A spokesman for Switzerland's State Secretariat for International Financial Matters declined to comment on the report.

(Reporting by Joshua Franklin and Oliver Hirt; Editing by Mark Potter)