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The six biggest U.S. banks, led by JP Morgan and Bank of America, have piled up $103bn in legal costs since the financial crisis, more than all dividends paid to shareholders in the past five years.

Bloomberg News reports that this is the amount allotted to lawyers and litigation, as well as for settling claims about shoddy mortgages and foreclosures, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The sum tops the banks’ combined profit last year.

The mounting bills have vexed bankers who are counting on expense cuts to make up for slow revenue growth and make room for higher payouts. About 40% of the legal and litigation outlays arose since January 2012, and banks are warning the tally may surge as regulators, prosecutors and investors press new claims.

The prospect is clouding outlooks for stock prices, and by some estimates the damage could last another decade.

'They’ve crossed the point of no return when it comes to the effects that these expenses are going to have on earnings,' said Jeffrey Sica, who helps oversee more than $1bn as head of Sica Wealth Management in Morristown, New Jersey, and doesn’t recommend bank stocks.

'This is going to keep on hurting them, and people will start paying more attention.'

JPMorgan and Bank of America bore about 75% of the total costs, according to the figures compiled from company reports. JPMorgan devoted $21.3bn to legal fees and litigation since the start of 2008, more than any other lender, and added $8.1bn to reserves for mortgage buybacks, filings show.

To access the complete Bloomberg article hit the link below.

U.S. Bank Legal Bills Exceed $100 Billion

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