The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has begun a probe into Chinese companies listing on U.S. stock exchanges through reverse takeovers, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people with knowledge of the probe.

The regulator's move came after hundreds of Chinese companies gained a U.S. listing by merging with dormant shell companies, the Journal said.

The SEC has begun a probe into how U.S. accountants, bankers and lawyers have helped the process, the people told the paper.

the SEC has also begun to target individual Chinese companies for accounting violations and lax auditing practices, beyond a number of previously announced investigations, the people told the paper.

The SEC could not be reached for comment.

On December 2, Rino International said its shares would be delisted by Nasdaq as the Chinese clean-technology company had failed to provide adequate information on accounting allegations against it.

(Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Dan Lalor)