Lee was incarcerated for just under a year (353 days), with Bloomberg noting that the executive will be on probation for four years. The reason Lee's sentence was cut in half in the appeals court is due to the judges finding that Lee did not seek any help in return for the support.
The Federation of Korean Industries, South Korea's biggest business lobby that speaks for large companies, said the court's ruling would have a positive impact on society.
Lee, wearing a dark suit and white shirt and looking noticeably worn, did not show any emotion when the ruling was announced. He stood up and looked around with a blank stare after the ruling, and was blushing as he walked out of the courtroom.
Samsung shares climbed Monday following the suspension of Lee's prison sentence.
The appeal trial began in October a year ago following appeals from both prosecutors and Lee's defence. The sprawling conglomerate has dozens of businesses in insurance, construction, advertising and shipbuilding. The Samsung heir was taken into custody on February 17, 2017. It was part of a huge influence-peddling scandal that brought down the government of former President Park Geun-hye.
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The court however took a harsh stance toward Park.
"It's truly disappointing", Park Yong-jin, a National Assembly member from Moon's party, said in a statement.
"We will carry out our social responsibility as a global corporation that can allow us to recover public confidence", a Samsung official said.
The outrage spread into the streets of Seoul.
He had been of a range of offences, including bribery, embezzlement, money laundering and perjury of parliament.
Lee's first stop from the prison was a Samsung hospital where his father has been hospitalized after suffering a heart attack in 2014.
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Kwon Young-june, a professor who researches corporate governance at Seoul's kyung Hae University, said he was startled to see the practice of letting powerful men off the hook with suspended sentences was still raging in South Korea.
Cheong Hyung-sik, the senior judge presiding over the appeals court case described Lee's involvement as "passive compliance with political power". "The essence of this case is that the defendant passively answered to political power".
The court said it was impossible to prove that Lee and Park had hatched the deal for which Lee was alleged to have paid a $1.6 million bribe to the president's confidante.
Lee was also charged along with four other Samsung leaders, all facing similar charges.
Lee Kun-Hee is credited with transforming a once-obscure electronics firm into a global powerhouse that today is the world's biggest maker of both mobile phones and memory chips.
BBC News also points out that there are likely to be political implications to this move, because of the link between Lee and the former president.
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