The heir to corruption charges and de facto boss of the South Korean electronics group Samsung, Lee Jae Yong, has been pardoned.

Justice Minister Han Dong Hoon announced a presidential pardon for the 54-year-old on Friday.

The move should allow Lee to do his part in "overcoming the economic crisis" in the country.

Lee was released on parole last August after serving 18 months in prison.

However, he was still subject to a five-year work restriction.

This is lifted by the pardon, so Lee can once again fully assume his managerial duties at the world's leading manufacturer of smartphones and memory chips.

Massive corruption scandal

"Because of the global economic crisis, the dynamism and vigor of the national economy have deteriorated, and there are fears that the economic crisis will last longer," the Justice Ministry said on Friday.

The pardon would see Lee and other similarly pardoned executives "return to spearhead the growth engine through active investment in technology and job creation."

Lee is officially the vice president of Samsung, but is considered the electronics giant's top decision-maker.

He was convicted in the course of a massive corruption scandal that also led to the fall of President Park Geun Hye in 2017.

Lee has been imprisoned several times in connection with the bribery and embezzlement scandal.

He was last sentenced in January 2021.

Numerous politicians and entrepreneurs had spoken out in favor of his early release.

Samsung is by far the largest of the family-run business conglomerates in South Korea.

The annual business turnover corresponds to one fifth of South Korea's gross domestic product and is crucial for the economic success of the Asian country.

Lee has been at the helm of the electronics company for a number of years after his father Lee Kun Hee suffered a heart attack and was unable to continue the business.

The business magazine "Forbes" estimates his fortune at the equivalent of around 7.8 billion euros.