Banking Dynasty Row Over Joseph Safra's Will Continues

Editorial Staff 8 February 2023

Banking Dynasty Row Over Joseph Safra's Will Continues

The story highlights the rows over variation of wills and issues of cognitive decline that this news service has covered in the past. It takes an added twist by focusing on a renowned banking dynasty.          

An heir of Lebanese-Brazilian billionaire banker Joseph Safra (pictured) has sued his mother and two siblings amid a dispute over the fortune of his late father, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday, Reuters reported.

Alberto Safra accused his family members of purposely diluting his stake in a holding company of Safra National Bank in an effort to oust him from the family empire.

In the lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, Alberto Safra claimed that his mother, Vicky Safra, and brothers Jacob and David Safra had engaged in acts of corporate misconduct to damage his interests in the company, the report said. (This news service covered the case  as far back as August 2021.) 

Alberto Safra is one of the four children of Joseph Safra, who died in late 2020 at the age of 82. The Safras own banks in Brazil, Switzerland and the US, as well as a real estate portfolio that includes the “Gherkin” building in London and a stake in the banana company Chiquita Brands International.

"Due to illegal and aggressive acts committed by his brothers, Alberto Safra had no choice but to file a lawsuit with the Supreme Court of New York to protect his rights," he was quoted as saying by Reuters. (The story was also reported by other services such as Bloomberg.)

Alberto Safra resigned from Banco Safra's board of directors in late 2019 after a dispute with his younger brother David. A year later, Joseph Safra, who was for many years Brazil's richest man and the world's wealthiest banker, passed away.

In 2021, Alberto Safra and the family came close to an agreement on Joseph Safra's will to avoid litigation over the fortune, which was valued at $15 billion at the time, the report said. 

In a statement, the Safra family told WealthBriefing: "A few months after receiving many donations from Mr. Joseph, in anticipation of his inheritance, Alberto left Banco Safra, without listening the appeals made personally by his father and started a business competing with Banco Safra, having even harassed and hired several executives of the Group. On that occasion Mr. Joseph spoke to several executives asking them not to accompany Alberto on his undertaking, as it was an affront to himself."

"After several refusals by Alberto to change his plans, Mr. Joseph disowned him and took action at that time. Now Alberto promotes a dispute against the whole family, saying that his father would have no reason to do what he did, claiming it was a conspiracy to harm him. The Family regrets the path taken by Alberto, who first attacked his father while he was alive and is now attacking his memory, and refutes his allegations," it said. 

Register for WealthBriefing today

Gain access to regular and exclusive research on the global wealth management sector along with the opportunity to attend industry events such as exclusive invites to Breakfast Briefings and Summits in the major wealth management centres and industry leading awards programmes