The FBI is investigating a consultant hired by hedge-fund manager Bill Ackman’s firm, looking to clarify they made false statements about the company’s business model to regulators, Bloomberg reported.
Ackman and his firm have not been subpoenaed.
The FBI investigation is looking into possible manipulation of Herbalife’s stock, and people who work for Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management LP have been interviewed.
Ackman, who has been running a campaign against Herbalife for over two years now.
Ackman has been calling Herbalife a pyramid scheme since 2012, and disclosed that he held an “enormous” short position in Herbalife’s stock.
Now and again, Ackman would fire new salvos at the company he loves to hate, which included his “death blow” presentation last summer—that didn’t kill anyone.
Ackman continued his sporadic attacks, and announced he fully expected Herbalife’s stock price to collapse and reach zero in a year.
Alan Hoffman, an executive vice president at Herbalife, issued a statement in response to the reports of a criminal investigation into Ackman campaign against them:
“Mr. Ackman has a $1 billion bet against Herbalife and a direct financial interest in hurting our company, ” Hoffman said. “For more than two years, he has spent over $75 million orchestrating a false and fabricated attack against Herbalife, all in an effort to enrich himself.”
On Friday, Ackman said he was aware that his contractors were talking to the FBI over his firm’s shorting of Herbalife.
“A handful of the people that have been hired, that work for them, have been interviewed by the FBI, ” Ackman told CNBC. “I was aware that representatives of Global Strategy Group had received subpoenas from the Department of Justice and that had given interviews.”
Over time, Ackman has made himself a powerful enemy in Carl Icahn, who has become Herbalife’s biggest shareholder.