IO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — A Jewish banker and philanthropist to Jewish causes has become Brazil’s richest person with $25.2 billion.
Joseph Safra, who is considered the richest banker in the world by Forbes magazine, has taken over the number one richest position in Brazil from entrepreneur Jorge Paulo Lemann, becoming the richest person in Latin America’s largest nation. The bank that bears his name announced in early February a net profit of near $2 billion in 2018, helping to increase his fortune.
Safra, 81, is a leading philanthropist in Brazil’s 120,000-strong Jewish community. Born in Lebanon, he runs a Brazilian banking and investment empire. His Lebanese/Syrian family’s banking connections date back to Ottoman times. The Safras moved to Brazil in 1952.
Lemann, one of the partners in the 3G fund with a current fortune estimated at $23 billion, had been Brazil’s richest person for six years in a row, reported the G1 news website. He lost $ 4.4 billion between March 2018 and March 2019, moving down from from 20th to 37th place on the worldwide list. His fund 3G is behind companies such as Inbev, Burger King and Kraft Heinz.
During the same period, Safra’s banks’ worth increased by $1.6 billion, rising from 36th to 31st. The billionaires remain the only Brazilians in the top 100 of the world’s richest. Next on the list are Marcel Herrmann Telles (141st), also a partner in 3G, and Eduardo Saverin (153rd), co-founder of Facebook.