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U.S. authorities extend deadline for Swiss banks in tax case

The Department of Justice (DOJ) logo is pictured on a wall after a news conference to discuss alleged fraud by Russian Diplomats in New York December 5, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

ZURICH (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday extended for one month the deadline for so-called category two Swiss banks suspected of helping wealthy Americans evade taxes to turn over information by one month.

More than 100 banks that have a reason to believe they may have committed tax offences, defined as category two banks, have signed up to the program. They are eligible for a non-prosecution agreement if they come clean and face fines.

The banks now have until July 31 to turn over the necessary information. The Justice Department said it had extended the original June 30 deadline because some banks were having trouble verifying whether an account was undeclared or disclosed in a timely manner to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

The Swiss government-brokered program requires the category two banks to hand over some previously hidden information and face penalties equivalent to up to 50 percent of the assets they managed on behalf of wealthy Americans.

Last month Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX), which was one of 14 category one banks, became the largest bank in decades to plead guilty to a U.S. criminal charge and will pay more than $2.5 billion in penalties for helping Americans evade taxes.

(Reporting by Joshua Franklin; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)