Prosecutors in South Korea have cleared presidential frontrunner Lee Myung-bak of involvement in a major fraud case.
Mr Lee is leading the race to become S Korea's next president
Officials said that there was "no evidence" to link Mr Lee to a stock manipulation scandal involving a former business partner.
Mr Lee, the candidate for the conservative opposition Grand National Party (GNP), has a sizeable lead on his two rivals for the top job, polls show.
Analysts say the ruling could pave the way for victory in 19 December polls.
President Roh Moo-hyun, who leads a liberal coalition, ends his term in February. A victory by Mr Lee would see the GNP returned to power for the first time in 10 years.
The case had involved Mr Lee's one-time business partner, Kim Gyeong-jun, who has been charged with share rigging and other offences.
"We found no evidence that candidate Lee colluded in the stock price manipulation," senior prosecutor Kim Hong-il said.
The former businessman welcomed the findings.
"I'm pleased that the truth finally prevailed," he said. "I'll humbly serve the people and meet their expectations."
Mr Lee faces independent Lee Hoi-chang and Chung Dong-young, candidate for the pro-government liberal United New Democratic Party (UNDP), in the presidential race.
A former Hyundai executive who has also served as mayor of Seoul, he has promised to revive South Korea's economy.
He has also pledged stronger ties with the US and a tougher line towards North Korea.