A Seoul court denied a request for an arrest warrant for heir Samsung Lee Jae-yong, after prosecutors accused him of accounting fraud and inventory manipulation.
The ruling provides at least temporary relief for the de facto head of the South Korean conglomerate.
But Mr. Lee is still not entirely clear, as prosecutors have said they will continue their investigations.
They can still return with new evidence and ask for another arrest warrant.
Prosecutors asked the court last week to issue an arrest warrant against Lee in connection with their investigation into the accounting fraud and controversial merger of two Samsung companies, Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries, in 2015.
Prosecutors said the deal helped his plan take greater control of the group.
Samsung denied the allegation of inventory manipulation against Lee on Friday, stating that “beyond common sense” claiming he was involved in the decision-making process.
In another weekend statement, the group said the lengthy investigation is weighing on management, which is “in crisis” at a time when the coronavirus pandemic and the US-China trade war are adding to uncertainty. .
Three senior executives, including a vice president, have already been sentenced to prison terms for hiding or destroying evidence in the probe.
Who is Lee Jae-yong?
The 51-year-old, also known as Jay Y Lee, is the son of Lee Kun-hee, president of the Samsung Group, the largest conglomerate in South Korea. He is also the grandson of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chul.
Graduated from the best university in South Korea and with an MBA from one of Japan’s most prestigious universities, he was appointed to take over the family business.
He became president of Samsung in 2009 and in 2013 he became vice president of Samsung Electronics, the division that manufactures devices including smartphones, televisions, cameras and hard drives.
Since Lee’s father suffered a heart attack in 2014, he has been considered the de facto head of the entire Samsung group of companies.
According to Forbes magazine, the father of two divorced people has a net worth of about $ 6.6 billion (£ 5.2 billion).
What is it about?
In February 2017, Lee Jae-yong was arrested and then charged with his alleged role in a political and corporate scandal related to the then president of South Korea, Park Geun-hye.
The charges against Mr. Lee included corruption, embezzlement, concealment of property abroad and perjury.
Samsung was accused of paying 43 billion won ($ 35.7 million; £ 28.1 million) to two non-profit foundations managed by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of Ms Park, in exchange for political support.
More specifically, favors should have included support for a controversial Samsung merger that paved the way for Lee as head of the conglomerate, an agreement that needed support from the South Korean-run national pension fund.
Lee denied the accusations. He admitted that he made donations but said that Samsung didn’t want anything in return.
In August 2017, a court sentenced him for the charges and sent him to prison for five years.
Six months later the sentence was cut in half and the Seoul High Court decided to suspend the prison sentence, which meant he was free to go.