By Oisin Sweeney • 11 December 2020 • 9:04
JOSEPH SAFRA, the world’s richest banker and Brazil’s richest man, has died of natural causes aged 82.
Born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1938 to Jewish parents, Safra emigrated with his family to Brazil in 1962 where he and his brothers launched a banking empire. His family had made a fortune in the Middle East by financing camel caravans under the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century.
In August 2020 Forbes listed Safra’s wealth as $23 billion, making him the world’s richest banker and the planet’s 39th richest person. He owned Banco Safra in Brazil as well as Safra National Bank of New York and J Safra Sarasin Bank in Switzerland, which catered for the super-rich. Among his other business interests were large stakes in London’s iconic ‘Gherkin’ skyscraper and the banana company Chiquita.
His brother Edmond was killed in a fire started by his nurse in Monaco in 1999, while his other brother Moise with whom he founded Banco Safra died in 2014. He is survived by his wife, four children, and 14 grandchildren.
The dual-title of the world’s richest banker and Brazil’s richest man has been passed on to Jorge Paulo Leeman, with a net worth of $19.9 billion.
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Oisin is an Irish writer based in Seville, the sunny capital of Andalucia. After starting his working life as a bookseller, he moved into journalism and cut his teeth as a reporter at one of Ireland's biggest news websites. Since joining Euro Weekly News in November, he has enjoyed covering the latest stories from Seville, Spain and further afield - with special interests in crime, cybersecurity, and European politics. Anyone who can pronounce his name first try gets a free cerveza...
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