A New York appeals court has granted Maurice “Hank” Greenberg permission to review documents that American International Group Inc., his former employer, had tried to keep confidential.

AIG, New York, had tried to keep Greenberg from seeing the documents to protect its attorney-client privilege. Greenberg stepped down as AIG’s chief executive officer and chairman in 2005 after federal and state officials announced investigations into some of the company’s financial transactions.

The New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division reversed a lower court ruling that Greenberg and Howard I. Smith, AIG’s former chief financial officer, could not review certain company documents in preparation for their defense of a suit bought by New York’s attorney general.

In its decision, the court said both executives have a right to review documents related to their tenure with the company. The defendants have a qualified right to inspect documents “to protect their personal responsibility interests,” the court said. That right only extends to the time they worked with the company, it ruled.

An AIG spokesman says the company plans to appeal the ruling.

The case dates back to 2005 when then New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer sued AIG, Greenberg and Smith for improper conduct.

Greenberg was forced out of the company after allegations surfaced that the company was involved in securities fraud, bid-rigging and other charges of misconduct.

AIG subsequently settled the case with a record $1.64 billion settlement over state and federal allegations.

Greenberg contends neither he nor the company did anything wrong and has been battling both AIG and prosecutors since.