Rapper Jay-Z seeks to limit testimony in probe by US securities watchdog

Jay-Z performing onstage during the Meadows Music And Arts Festival in New York City. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Rapper Jay-Z has been ordered to appear at a hearing in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday (May 8), after the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accused him of twice defying subpoenas calling him to testify in an investigation of the sale of his Rocawear clothing line.

In a court filing last week, the SEC said Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, had failed to respond to subpoenas served in November and February.

Jay-Z in a court filing on Monday said he had offered to testify for one day, but asked US District Judge Paul Gardephe to bar any questioning longer than that.

Jay-Z said in the filing that forcing him to testify on May 11, less than three weeks before the start of a global tour, would "impair the work of many individuals and entities"preparing for it and hinder his own preparation.

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

The SEC countered in its own filing on Monday that Jay-Z had been avoiding the agency's inquiries for months, and should not get an "artificial time limit" as a "reward".

"Placing a hard time limit on testimony does nothing more than create an incentive to run out the clock," it said.

Jay-Z sold Rocawear to Iconix Brand Group Inc in 2007 for about US$204 million.

The SEC has said it is looking into writedowns totalling this sum, US$169 million in 2015 and US$34.6 million (S$46.4 million) in 2017, that Iconix took in connection with Rocawear.

Gardephe will hear arguments in Jay-Z's motion to limit his testimony at 3pm EDT (3am on Wednesday, Singapore time), court records show.

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