Jay-Z’s attorneys say SEC subpoena is weapon in ‘celebrity hunt’

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Lawyers for Jay-Z are accusing the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of engaging in a “celebrity hunt” by trying to compel the hip-hop mogul to testify in the agency’s probe of a firm he did business with more than a decade ago.

Jay-Z, whose given name is Shawn Carter, was willing to testify for a full day, but not “day-to-day until completed” as the SEC is seeking, his attorneys wrote in a court filing dated Monday. The lawyers cited Jay-Z’s concern that the agency’s request “is driven more by governmental fascination with celebrity and headlines than by any proper investigative purpose.”

The SEC sought a court order last week to compel the rapper to provide testimony as part of its investigation of accounting practices at Iconix Brand Group Inc. The retailer paid $200 million to acquire assets from his Rocawear apparel brand in 2007. The retailer wrote down the value of those assets by $169 million in March 2016 and another $34 million this year.

Iconix, whose brands include Candie’s and Joe Boxer, has been under SEC investigation since December 2015 over its accounting practices. In November 2015, the New York-based company said it would restate financial results over how it classified some expenses and recognized revenue related to licensing agreements.

Jay-Z’s lawyers say their client has been cooperative with the SEC’s investigation, but have sought to do so without imposing undue burdens on him.

“Mr. Carter will commence a global tour consisting of 45 shows on June 6, 2018. Suffice to say, the professional and publicity demands on his time are enormous,” they wrote. He is scheduled appear in federal court in Manhattan at 3 p.m. Tuesday to respond to the SEC.

Judy Burns, an SEC spokeswoman, declined to comment.

Bloomberg News
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