South Korea's Supreme Court on Friday upheld a lower court ruling that acquitted the former chairman of Samsung on breach of trust charges.
The top court said that Lee Kun-hee was not guilty, reiterating a judgment made by the Seoul High Court last year. The charges stemmed from long-standing allegations of dubious financial transactions purportedly aimed at transferring corporate control from Lee to his son.
In a related case, the court threw out convictions of two Samsung executives who had been found guilty of selling convertible bonds to Lee's children at prices less-than-market value.
The court said that it could not find that the executives had violated breach of trust laws in the case and sent it back to the Seoul High Court for reconsideration.
Critics had said the sale was aimed at enabling Lee to hand over control of the Samsung Group to his son Jae-yong, now an executive at Samsung Electronics Co.
The elder Lee, who led South Korea's biggest industrial conglomerate for 20 years, was convicted last year of tax evasion and given a suspended prison term.
Lee is a South Korean corporate icon who has personified Samsung. He succeeded his father as chairman and is widely credited with turning the group's flagship, Samsung Electronics, into a global brand.
Lee was indicted in April last year following a probe by special prosecutors into allegations of wrongdoing aired by a former Samsung lawyer. The indictment prompted Lee to quit as chairman of Samsung Electronics.