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Deutsche Bank ex-CEO urges top court to bar seized evidence

Former Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Josef Ackermann attends the presentation of his biography written by Stefan Baron, in Berlin, September
Former Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Josef Ackermann attends the presentation of his biography written by Stefan Baron, in Berlin, September

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Deutsche Bank's former CEO Josef Ackermann has asked Germany's highest court to keep a trove of documents out of a long-running suit brought by heirs of the collapsed Kirch media empire.

Ackermann has asked the court to block the group representing the heirs, which is seeking up to 1.5 billion euros ($2.1 billion) in damages from Deutsche Bank, from using documents seized by Munich prosecutors during raids on the bank a year ago.

If left unhindered, lawyers representing Kirch may be free to trawl through some 8 million documents which they believe could bolster their decade-long pursuit of damages from Deutsche Bank.

Ackermann's request asserts that the blanket nature and scale of the raids infringed his right to privacy and a fair trial, a court spokesman said. "The urgent matter will be examined as quickly as possible," he said.

The formal request for a rapid decision from the Constitutional Court often results in a decision within days.

The Munich prosecutor handed over the data on Friday to lawyers representing the Kirch heirs.

Prosecutors searched Deutsche Bank twice in December 2012, once as part of a probe into possible tax evasion and once as part of the Kirch case.

Current co-CEO Juergen Fitschen, Ackermann and their predecessor Rolf Breuer are the target of a separate investigation into whether they misled prosecutors with false evidence in the Kirch case. They have denied any wrongdoing.

The late Leo Kirch claimed that in 2002 then Deutsche chief executive Rolf Breuer triggered his media group's downfall by questioning its creditworthiness in a television interview.

Last year, a Munich judge said Kirch had suffered damages of between 120 million and 1.5 billion euros. A final amount in damages has yet to be determined.

Deutsche Bank has launched a highly touted cultural transformation plan led by Fitschen and co-CEO Anshu Jain as it works through a long list of scandals, investigations and fines that came in the wake of the financial crisis.

A Deutsche Bank spokesman declined to comment. Ackermann's lawyer was not immediately available to comment.

($1 = 0.7289 euros)

(Reporting by Thomas Atkins, Ilona Wissenbach, Philipp Halstrick and Alexander Huebner; Editing by Mark Potter)

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