Samsung Executive Board Chairman Lee Jae-yong, also known as Jay Y. Lee, was acquitted on Monday of accounting fraud and stock price manipulation charges related to the 2015 merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries in South Korea.
According to The New York Times, Lee had previously denied the allegations.
Prosecutors claimed that the merger aided Lee in ascending to the top position in the technology giant. Lee faced a potential five-year prison sentence and a 500 million won (approximately $375,000) fine.
However, the court did not find sufficient evidence for the allegations. According to NPR, Lee did not answer media questions as he left the courthouse.
Samsung, one of the world’s largest technology companies, offers a wide range of products, including Samsung Galaxy phones, Galaxy Book laptops, and Samsung TVs.
The decision by the South Korean court comes after years of legal battles over financial crimes related to this merger. Lee was initially convicted in 2017 for offering bribes to former South Korean President Park Geun-hye and a close associate of Park to gain support for the merger. However, Lee’s sentence was reduced, and he was released from prison in 2018.
In a retrial in 2021, Lee was convicted again for giving bribes amounting to 8.6 billion won (approximately $6.45 million). However, he was released on parole in the same year.
Lee had been banned from working at Samsung for five years, but South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol pardoned him during a national holiday in 2022.
Bloomberg estimates Lee’s net worth to be around $9.9 billion.