Mutual fund providers have become the focus of a new regulatory probe aimed at determining whether stock-trading rebates have benefited shareholders or lined the pockets of investment managers, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Brokerage firms handling mutual fund trades have been known to rebate as much as two cents of a five-cent trade in recent years when order flows reach pre-determined volumes, but the refunds are often used to pay for research instead of lowering annual expenses paid by shareholders.

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