A South Korean court has found Lee Jae-yong not guilty of accounting fraud and stock manipulation.
Samsung chairman Lee Jae-yong has been acquitted in a case involving a controversial merger dating back almost 10 years.
Lee merged two Samsung affiliates, Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries in 2015 but was accused of manipulating share prices to do so.
The merger allowed the billionaire to solidify his control over the tech giant and supported his succession to become head of the company.
Lee took over Samsung when his father, former chairman Lee Kun-hee, had a heart attack in 2014.
Three years later, Lee was convicted of bribing former South Korean President Park Geun-hye while seeking state support for the merger.
In view of the former conviction, some commentators are angry about this latest acquittal.
The People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, South Korea’s biggest civic group, said the court failed to display “even a minimal level of social justice”.
Throughout the trial, Lee nonetheless denied wrongdoing, arguing that he and other executives were acting in the interest of shareholders.
“It is hard to say that Lee Jae-yong … spearheaded the merger, and that the merger was done just for the sake of Lee’s succession,” said Seoul Central District Court.
Some within the business world hope that the acquittal will increase Samsung’s competitiveness by allowing the firm to be more risk-averse.
However, it is not clear yet whether the prosecutors will appeal against the decision.
As trading closed on Monday, shares in Samsung C&T rose 0.47% on the Korea Stock Exchange.