(يوسف صفرا) is a member of one of the wealthiest families in South America
and currently runs the Brazilian banking
empire, Safra Group
. As the chairman of all Safra companies, among them Safra National Bank of New York
, and the large Banco Safra
headquartered in São Paulo
. Joseph was recently ranked number 101 on the Forbes list of billionaries, with an estimated fortune of 8.8 billion (ranked number 3 for South America).
Joseph was born into a wealthy Jewish Syrian banking family from Aleppo
. The family's history in banking originated with caravan trade between Aleppo, Alexandria
during the Ottoman Empire
. The family relocated to Beirut
after the first world war. Later, facing anti-Jewish riots in Beirut after the creation of the state of Israel
, the Safras decided to move to Brazil in 1952
. In 1955
, Joseph's 23-year-old brother, Edmond Safra
, and his father, Jacob Safra
, started working in Brazil by financing assets in São Paulo. But soon, Edmond Safra separated from his brothers Joseph and Moise and headed to New York where he founded the Republic National Bank of New York (which he later sold to HSBC
in 1997 and donated most of his money to the Edmond Safra Foundation). Joseph Safra founded Banco Safra
in the 60's, and today it is the 6th largest private bank in Brazil. He remains the chairman of the Safra Group
offering banking services throughout Europe, North and South America.
Joseph Safra recently acquired the remaining shares of Safra Group companies from his brother Moise. The two brothers still maintain a joint ownership of Aracruz Cellulose.