The U.S. Treasury approved 10 banks to buy back $68 billion of government shares on Tuesday, a first crucial step for banks to be set free from government restrictions.

“These repayments are an encouraging sign of financial repair, but we still have work to do,” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a statement released in Washington today.

The Treasury Department did not indicate which banks were included in this group but the list is expected to include the nine banks which were found to not need additional capital after the release of the stress test results.

The list is likely to include Goldman Sachs, Morgan Chase and American Express.

Geithner said the funds paid back into the TARP could be used to help smaller, troubled institutions that are still struggling in the recession. More than 600 US banks have so far received funds from the TARP.