Bohorquez’s lawyer, Alexander, finally revealed the secret arrangement to ABC News in March after a New York Times story raised questions about financial ties between Ackman and others speaking publicly against Herbalife.
Ackman said he agreed to the deal after Bohorquez balked at going public because he feared his disclosures could make it difficult for him to find work at an executive level.
“Giovanni could not afford to take the company on. We thought his story was important,” Ackman told ABC News. “Being a whistleblower is a very dangerous thing to do if you want to get a job."
Bohorquez is one of the few insiders to ever talk critically about Herbalife.
ABC News had encouraged Bohorquez to speak publicly after he was introduced by Ackman’s public relations team.
He has been used by Ackman in the hedge fund’s campaign to generate negative news reports about the company and prod state and federal agencies to investigate the company.
Bohorquez’s lawyer says there was “no quid pro quo” arrangement with Ackman to do an interview with ABC News.
According to the New York Times story last August, the “anonymous executive” who Herbalife says is Bohorquez, was subpoenaed by the New York State Attorney General’s Office.
Bohorquez’s lawyer, Alexander, would not say whether his client had spoken to government investigators or whether they were told of the secret financial arrangement with Ackman to gain his cooperation.
He stopped the most recent interview with Bohorquez when ABC News tried to ask the former executive whether he had informed various investigative agencies of his secret deal with Ackman.
“We’re done,” Alexander said. “We told you we’re not talking about what he talked about to federal agencies.”
Under the terms of the generous deal, a copy of which was provided by Ackman, Bohorquez was entitled to receive as much as $250,000 a year for 10 years if he lost his then-current job at a national chain of laundromats as a result of his “disclosures” to the media or the government.
The contract provides a five percent raise every year, and $500,000 more if he loses out on possible public offerings from his then-employer.
If he finds a new job that pays him less than $250,000 a year, Pershing will make up the difference.
Taken together, the total value to Bohorquez over 10 years could be as much $3.61 million.
The deal requires Bohorquez to actively look for work and to be truthful in all of his statements about Herbalife to the media and government.
“You should judge for yourself whether Giovanni is an honest man or not,” Ackman said. “I think Giovanni will be viewed as a hero.”
Ackman acknowledges spending more than $20 million in a lobbying and media campaign against Herbalife.
“I will pursue Herbalife to the end of the earth,” he told ABC News.