Jay Z’s lawyers and the attorneys for the Securities and Exchange Commission are slated to square off in a Manhattan federal district court today over whether he should be compelled to partake in an SEC deposition.
Jay Z, whose real name is Shawn C. Carter, is being hauled into the SEC’s probing of alleged accounting irregularities at Iconix Brand Group. In 2007, he sold his apparel line Rocawear to Iconix for $204 million. Since then, Iconix has written down $169 million in connection with its Rocawear business and this year wrote down another $34 million. The SEC is interested in what he knows because Iconix and Rocawear were parties to some joint ventures subsequent to the acquisition.
The SEC last week sought a court order to enforce a subpoena seeking Jay Z’s testimony. The agency said it plans to inquire about “among other things, Jay Z’s joint ventures with Iconix.”
But according to Jay Z’s attorneys in court documents, the SEC hasn’t been too cooperative in disclosing what is the planned scope of questioning, and they weren’t too happy about the agency’s request to ask questions over what they deemed to be over an unspecified time period. They went so far as to even allege that the SEC’s request was “driven more by governmental fascination with celebrity and headlines…”
Jay Z in a declaration provided some details about his upcoming tour schedule and how a deposition while he was in rehearsal would “impair the work of many” working on the tour preparation. He even said “rehearsals costs millions of dollars.”
The SEC is planning to depose Jay Z on Friday, and his global tour begins June 6. He is currently in rehearsals in California, but is slated to head to Paris on May 16 to continue rehearsals there.
In response, the SEC said that Jay Z has been “ducking” testimony for months, and said it would likely only need one day provided he is “cooperative and responsive.” The agency also said it shouldn’t be left without recourse if it needs more time to complete the testimony, “particularly given [Jay Z’s] stated plan to leave the country for an extended period beginning on May 16.”