After the SEC asked a New York judge last week for a court order to compel Jay-Z to testify in an investigation into Iconix Brands, a New York City-based company that purchased the rapper’s Rocawear clothing label back in 2007, Jay-Z’s legal team has fired back with a 15-page memo blasting the SEC’s request as “unreasonable” and pointing out that the rapper has already offered one day of testimony.
Lawyers for Jay-Z also raised concerns about the direction of the investigation, saying a probe into Iconix, which has financial ties to Jay-Z, could morph into a “celebrity hunt” (like they did to Martha Stewart), according to USA Today.
Arguing that the rapper, whose birth name is Shawn Carter, has little information about the direction of the investigation, attorney Alex Spiro said asking Jay-Z to testify for an unlimited period of time would impose too much of a burden on the rapper and his crew, who are preparing for a 45-date world tour in support of his album 4:44.
“The SEC continues to insist on meeting Mr. Carter in person for an unlimited period of time,” Spiro wrote in a 15-page legal memorandum. “The upshot imposes unreasonable burdens on Mr. Carter and raises serious questions about whether this exercise has transcended any investigative purpose and crossed over into a celebrity hunt.”
In a separate declaration, Jay-Z stated that providing the asked-for testimony at the SEC’s Washington headquarters on May 11 would “impair the work of many individuals and entities who are preparing for the tour and will hinder my own work in preparation for the tour.”
As far as we know, the investigation centers on potential securities law violations by Iconix, which paid Jay-Z more than $200 million to acquire “intangible assets” associated with Rocawear. The company has since written down most of the value of those assets, announcing a $169 million writedown in March 2016, and a further $34 million writedown in March of this year.
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