MUNICH/STUTTGART, Germany (Reuters) - Germany’s highest court has rejected a request by former Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Josef Ackermann to keep a trove of documents out of a long-running lawsuit brought by heirs of the collapsed Kirch media empire.
The late Leo Kirch sought for years to recoup about 2 billion euros ($2.60 billion) in damages from Deutsche Bank after claiming in 2002 that Rolf Breuer, the bank’s CEO at the time, triggered his media group’s downfall by questioning its creditworthiness in a television interview.
Kirch’s representatives have continued the battle since his death in 2011 and Ackermann had asked the Federal Constitutional Court to block the group from using documents seized by prosecutors during raids on the bank a year ago.
The raids were in relation to tax inquiries and a separate investigation into whether evidence given in the Kirsch case by current Deutsche Bank co-CEO Juergen Fitschen, Ackermann and their predecessor Breuer was deliberately misleading.
All three have denied any wrongdoing.
A statement from a Constitutional Court spokesman on Thursday said that the court had not granted Ackermann’s request and that “the decision was issued without further explanation”.
However, Munich prosecutors on Thursday said that the judge in charge of the investigation into the evidence given by the Deutsche Bank executives had cited “considerable suspicion” of “a serious case of complicity in an attempt to mislead the court” as a reason to allow access to the documents.
Lawyers representing the Kirch family were handed data by Munich prosecutors on Friday and should now be free to trawl through documents they believe could bolster their decade-long pursuit of damages.
Spokesmen for Deutsche Bank and the Kirch heirs, as well as Ackermann’s lawyer, declined to comment. ($1 = 0.7251 euros)
Reporting by Ilona Wissenbach, Jörn Poltz, Philipp Halstrick and Alexander Huebner; Writing by Jonathan Gould; Editing by David Goodman