Samsung Group heir Jay Y. Lee arrives for a court hearing to review a detention warrant request against him at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, South Korea, June 8, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

SEOUL (Reuters) – A South Korean court on Tuesday denied an arrest warrant request for Samsung Group heir Jay Y. Lee after prosecutors accused him of accounting fraud and stock manipulation.

Prosecutors last week asked the court to issue an arrest warrant against Lee, capping a probe into a 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates that they said helped facilitate Lee’s plan to assume greater control of the group.

Lee is vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, the world’s top maker of smartphones and memory chips.

“It appears that prosecutors have secured considerable amount of evidence through their investigation, but they fell short of explaining the validity to detain Lee,” the Seoul Central District Court said in a statement.

Samsung was not immediately available for comment.

The court’s denial of Lee’s arrest comes amid allegations he was involved in illegal transactions and stock manipulation that furthered the $8 billion merger of affiliates Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries in 2015.

The merger was seen as key to Lee increasing control of the sprawling group but critics say it rode roughshod over the interests of minority investors.

Prosecutors may decide to reapply for Lee’s arrest warrant after further investigation, or bring Lee to trial without arrest.

Reporting by Heekyong Yang and Hyunjoo Jin; Writing by Joyce Lee; Editing by Tom Brown

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