Jay-Z Ordered to Testify in SEC's Accounting Probe of Retailer

(Bloomberg) -- Jay-Z must testify in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission probe of a retailer that bought assets of his Rocawear brand 11 years ago, a federal judge said Tuesday.

The SEC has shown that a face-to-face interview with the hip-hop mogul, whose given name is Shawn Carter, is relevant to its accounting investigation of Iconix Brand Group Inc., U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe said at a hearing in federal court in Manhattan. Alex Spiro, an attorney for the rapper, said his client agreed to answer questions from the agency on May 15.

“We are pleased with the decision,” Spiro said in a statement.

Jay-Z’s lawyers said May 7 that the SEC was engaging in a “celebrity hunt” by trying to compel him to testify. The lawyers cited his concern that the agency’s request “is driven more by governmental fascination with celebrity and headlines than by any proper investigative purpose.”

Iconix paid about $200 million to acquire assets from Jay-Z’s Rocawear apparel brand in 2007. The agency is seeking his testimony after Iconix wrote down the value of Rocawear by $169 million in March 2016 and another $34 million this year, the SEC said.

The retailer, whose brands include Candie’s and Joe Boxer, restated financial results in November 2015 over how the it classified some expenses and recognized revenue related to licensing agreements.

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