Minority Groups Push Herbalife Probe

Oct 21 2013 | 11:13am ET

Pershing Square Capital Management has a new ally in its battle against nutritional supplements company Herbalife.

A group of black and Hispanic leaders has asked California officials to launch an investigation into the company, saying its "deceptive marketing and predatory business practices… target vulnerable minority communities."

The group, led by the League of United Latin American Citizens, wants California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Santa Cruz County District Attorney Bob Lee to launch an investigation into the company, which Pershing Square's William Ackman alleges is a pyramid scheme.

Ackman has a roughly $1 billion short bet against the company, which is based in Los Angeles.

The anti-Herbalife coalition has set up a toll-free telephone line to "allow victims to report their experiences."

The move by the minority groups comes after a federal judge in Los Angeles refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Herbalife filed by a former distributor, whose allegations echo those of Ackman.

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