This is proving to be Pershing Square Capital Management founder William Ackman's week.
A short-seller has sued Carl Icahn and Herbalife's banks, accusing them of helping the nutritional supplements company continue a massive fraud. Word of the suit comes after a leading consumer group called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Ackman's allegations that Herbalife is a pyramid scheme.
Daniel Ravicher, a lawyer and fund manager who holds a "substantial short" position in Herbalife, accused Icahn, who has a nearly 16% stake in Herbalife, of being motivated "solely by a desire to exact revenge" on Ackman, with whom he has engaged in a decade-long feud. In doing so, he has "aided and abetted" Herbalife's perpetration of "one of the largest frauds in history."
Ravicher, who buys Ackman's pyramid scheme thesis, cited Icahn's celebrated face-off with Ackman on live television in January, noting that the famed corporate raider said "on public television that he hopes to create the 'greatest short squeeze of all time.'"
Ravicher also accuses Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo of exposing themselves to "criminal and civil liability" by giving Herbalife a line of credit.
According to Ravicher, Herbalife is a pyramid scheme "because it has a compensation program based primarily on providing payments to participants for the recruitment of new participants, not on the retail sale of products or services."