The Securities and Exchange Commission fears that investment companies may have paid retirement-plan consultants in order to steer business their way, The Wall Street Journal reports.

A probe that began last December and looked into possible conflicts of interest in the financial-services industry has uncovered "troubling" evidence – not yet announced as full-fledged proof – of improper payments to the pension planners. The evidence, though, seems damaging enough that some consultants and money management firms may soon face SEC action.

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