An activist investor who has targeted community banks is refusing to make a court appearance tied to a regulator's investigation.

Joseph Stilwell said in court filings that he doesn't need to appear in court because he has already cooperated extensively with federal investigators who are looking into possible fraud at Stilwell's hedge funds.

U.S. District Court Judge Ronnie Abrams earlier this month ordered Stilwell to appear in court to respond to a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC is investigating Stilwell for potential securities fraud in connection with loans made between various hedge funds he controls.

The SEC has said in legal documents that it is investigating whether the funds "accurately disclosed the existence and true terms of [and] potential conflicts of interest created by" inter-fund loans, dating back to 2003.

In a response, filed on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Stilwell's lawyers said he has adequately responded to numerous SEC requests for information and has met with investigators on multiple occasions. However, his lawyers also wrote that, after the SEC pressured Stilwell into settling the investigation, he declined, at which point the SEC indicated it would pursue legal action against him.

Stilwell, as a result, argues that if any court testimony would be used against him. "Stilwell's testimony would serve no investigative purpose, but rather is a discovery tool for use in litigation," his lawyers wrote.

Stilwell, who has pressured management at several community banks to sell their banks, has met with SEC enforcement staff, provided investigators with documents and other information, and responded to previous subpoenas issued by the SEC.

Steven Glaser at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, and Peter Hardy at Post & Schell are Stilwell's legal counsel in the case.

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