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Jay-Z subpoenaed by SEC, papers say

Jay-Z accepts the President's Merit Award at a

Jay-Z accepts the President's Merit Award at a pre-Grammy gala in New York on Jan. 27. Credit: Getty Images for NARAS / Michael Kovac

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday announced that it has taken action in Manhattan federal court to force hip-hop icon Jay-Z to comply with a subpoena seeking testimony about the sale of his Rocawear clothing brand.

The SEC said it is investigating financial reporting at Iconix Brand Group of New York, which paid more than $200 million to acquire Rocawear assets but then wrote down the business by $169 million last year and another $34 million in March.

The agency said it had made no determination that the hip-hop artist and mogul, whose given name is Shawn Carter, violated securities laws, but said he had ignored two subpoenas to testify about joint ventures with Iconix and other matters.

U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe ordered him to appear in court on Tuesday to show why he should not comply with an SEC subpoena ordering a May 11 appearance.

“We are aware that the SEC is seeking information on Iconix’s financial reporting,” a Carter representative said in a statement. “Mr. Carter had no role in that reporting or Iconix’s other actions as a public company. Mr. Carter is a private citizen who should not be involved in this matter.”

The representative did not comment on his plans for responding to the court order next week.

The SEC, in its release, said after the acquisition, Carter and Iconix had maintained publicly disclosed partnerships relating to the Rocawear brand. The agency said its first subpoena for him was issued Nov. 17, and then a second was issued after Carter retained a new lawyer in February.

“Carter failed to appear as required by the subpoenas and, through, his counsel, Carter has declined to provide any additional dates on which he will agree to appear for investigative testimony,” the commission said.

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