Seoul, Feb 5 (EFE).- A South Korean court on Monday acquitted Samsung chairman Lee Jae-yong in the trial for alleged fraud and stock manipulation during a controversial merger of two companies of the group in 2015.

South Korean prosecutors had requested a five-year jail sentence and a fine of 500 million won (about $375,000) for Lee, whom they accused of being behind moves to artificially inflate the value of one of the two companies involved in the merger, Cheil Industries, and do the opposite with the other company, Samsung C&T, which generated losses for other investors.

The verdict comes three years and five months after Lee was indicted for accounting fraud, breach of trust and stock price rigging.

Prosecutors say that the stock prices were rigged through irregular purchases of stocks of both companies, spreading false information and by influencing key figures of the South Korean National Pension Service - one of the main shareholders of Samsung C&T -, to approve the merger.

Lee was also accused of being behind accounting fraud at the biopharmaceutical company, Samsung Biologics, which is a subsidiary of Cheil Industries, in which was the majority stockholder in 2015 with 23.2 percent of the shares.

The merger was considered crucial at the time to cement Lee's control over the group that his family founded, after his father, Lee Kun-hee, had a heart attack a year earlier that left him incapacitated until his death in 2020.

Lee, who is executive chairman of Samsung Electronics, the flagship subsidiary in South Korea's biggest business group, spent a year in prison between 2017 and 2018 and another year-and-a-half between 2021 and 2022 for bribery and embezzlement in connection with a corruption scandal, which in turn led to the dismissal and imprisonment of former South Korean president Park Geun-hye. EFE

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