Jay-Z ordered to testify in Rocawear probe

A New York federal judge has ordered Jay-Z to testify on May 15 in an investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission involving the sale of the rapper's Rocawear clothing brand to Iconix Brand Group Inc.

At a hearing in Manhattan, US District Judge Paul Gardephe said Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, had failed to respond to SEC subpoenas served on him November and February, despite the agency's repeated efforts to schedule a time for him to testify.

"The testimony has been delayed for five months, and I do not intend to tolerate any further delay," he said.

Jay-Z was represented at the hearing by his lawyer, Alex Spiro, and did not appear himself. Spiro and lawyers for the SEC did not say where the testimony would take place.

The SEC filed a petition last week to enforce its subpoenas against Jay-Z.

Jay-Z sold Rocawear to Iconix in 2007 for about $204 million. The SEC has said it is looking into writedowns totaling this sum, $169 million in 2015 and $34.6 million in 2017, that Iconix took in connection with Rocawear.

The hip-hop mogul said in a court filing on Monday that forcing him to testify at length would "impair the work of many individuals and entities" preparing for an upcoming world tour with his pop star wife Beyonce and hinder his own preparation.

He also said that his testimony would not be relevant to the investigation.

Gardephe disagreed, saying at Tuesday's hearing that the agency had a "legitimate purpose" in seeking to interview Jay-Z.

The judge declined to impose a one-day time limit on the testimony, as Jay-Z requested in Monday's court filing, saying that a time limit could be an incentive to "waste time" and "run out the clock."

Australian Associated Press