Country: Brazil (Lebanon)
Wealth: 7.5 Billion
Lebanese-born Brazilian banker, Joseph Safra currently runs the Brazilian banking and investment empire, Safra Group. Born in Beirut, Lebanon, into a wealthy banking family, the family's history in banking originated with caravan trade between Aleppo, Alexandria and Istanbul during the days of the Ottoman Empire.
The Lebanese family 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. Later on, 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 1999 and donated most of his money to the Edmond Safra Foundation). Joseph Safra founded Banco Safra in 1955 and today it is reportedly the sixth largest private bank in Brazil. He remains the chairman of the Safra Group offering banking services throughout Europe, North and South America. Last year, Safra bought Switzerland’s Bank Sarasin for $2bn, creating Bank J Safra Sarasin. Safra owns the 660 Madison Avenue building in New York.