Lee, whose father is Samsung's chairman, was previously sentenced to five years after being found guilty of bribery, embezzlement, capital flight and perjury charges. He was immediately freed from a almost year-long incarceration, reports Yonhap News Agency. Many in the South Korean business community said Lee will likely focus on Samsung Electronics, the conglomerate's main bread earner, and move forward with various investments and mergers deals.
While sources have told BBC News that Samsung's share price hasn't really been affected by Lee's imprisonment in the short term, the fact he's now been released is going to be a relief to many.
Judges said Lee, vice chairman of the world's biggest smartphone and memory chip maker Samsung Electronics, had been forced to offer bribes to then-president Park Geun-Hye and her close confidante.
Samsung has become a top global company in recent years amid robust earnings in such areas as semiconductors and consumer electronics, though it has always been dogged by negative public perceptions, such as corruption and collusive ties with politicians. Commentators said today's decision was in keeping with past lenient legal treatment of their leaders.
Markets recover some losses; Sensex down 407 points
Considering the fall is driven by global factors, investors should stay long in Indian markets, said experts. The broader NSE Nifty zoomed past the 10,200-mark for the first time to hit an all-time high of 10,242.95.
"I want to say once again how sorry I am that I have failed to present a good image of myself", said Lee as he left prison. The vice-chairman of Samsung, Lee Jae-yong, was questioned last month by investigators who are seeking evidence that he paid bribes to Choi Soon-sil. All in all, Lee spent 353 days in prison.
"The result doesn't directly affect rank-and-file employees, but it will matter more to the executives", said an assistant manager-level employee at Samsung.
Former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has declared that he won't run for South Korea's presidency. The country's courts have had a habit of letting its corporate moguls off easy when charged with crimes.
The scandal brought down the government of President Park Geun-hye past year. Former Samsung executives Choi Ji-sung and Jang Chung-gi were also both given suspended sentences. In December 2009, the elder Lee, who had chaired the country's Olympic committee, was pardoned after being convicted for tax evasion, in order to help with lobbying efforts for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.