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Hedge fund manager William A. Ackman walked the halls of Congress last year, telling any lawmaker who would listen that he believed Herbalife, a nutritional supplements company, was a fraud. He finally got a break Thursday, when Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts sent letters to federal regulators urging them to investigate the company.
The action introduced a political element into what has become a billion-dollar brawl among prominent investors.
Ackman contends that Herbalife is a pyramid scheme and wagered that its stock is worthless.
The company has forcefully denied Ackman’s assertions, spending millions of dollars last year to defend its reputation. And it has found champions elsewhere on Wall Street.
Herbalife stock dropped more than 10 percent Thursday after Markey’s letters were disclosed.