An appellate panel in Manhattan appears to have cleared the way for the long-postponed civil fraud trial of former American International Group executives Maurice “Hank” Greenberg and Howard Smith.

The Appellate Division, First Department in People v. Greenberg, 401720/05, rejected defense claims that the trial judge, Justice Charles Ramos, is biased. The allegation of bias was based on Ramos’ pretrial rulings and comments he made during various proceedings.

“While the judge at times may have been irritated with defense counsel and the prolonged litigation, it cannot be said that his comments, alone or in the aggregate, caused his impartiality to be reasonably questioned,” the court said in a unanimous decision. Justices Peter Tom (See Profile), David Friedman (See Profile), Leland DeGrasse (See Profile), Paul Feinman (See Profile) and Judith Gische (See Profile) were on the panel.

Greenberg and Smith are accused civilly of approving reinsurance transactions designed to obscure the financial picture of AIG, which had been the largest insurance company in the world. The case has been pending for nine years.

“Once again, today’s appellate court decision clears the way for us to make our case against Mr. Greenberg in court,” Damien LaVera, spokesman for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, said in a statement.

David Boies, chairman of Boies, Schiller & Flexner and lead counsel in the case said in statement: “While we disagree with the court’s decision, we continue to believe that the attorney general’s pursuit of this action is a waste of judicial and state resources and that the case should be dismissed.”

Nicholas Gravante Jr. of Boies Schiller represented Greenberg, Smith was represented by Vincent Sama of Kaye Scholer. Assistant Attorney General Judith Vale appeared for the state.