The Life of Moise Safra: Founder of Safra Bank in Brazil

On April 27 in the year 1935, one of the most prominent Jewish billionaires in Brazil was born in Aleppo, Syria. His name was Moise Safra, the founder of Banco Safra, one of the biggest financial institutions in Latin America.

Moise Safra
Moise Safra (Photo Credit:

Moise Safra was one of the sons of a prominent Syrian banker. In 1955, the family moved to Brazil where they engaged in financing export and import operations in Sao Paulo. The following year, the family made a decision to separate ways. One brother, Edmond, got the European operation while Moise and his younger brother Joseph put up Banco Safra, industrial undertakings and agricultural enterprises in Brazil. Subsequently, Moise took care of the industrial activities while Joseph managed the bank which later diversified into allied operations such as insurance, leasing and stock brokerage.

In 1998, Moise Safra founded M. Safra and Company with offices in the US and Brazil. It was an investment management company with separate operation from Banco Safra.

In 2006, Moise Safra sold his stake in the bank plus other stakes in the bank-owned companies in Europe to his brother Joseph for a sum estimated at $2 billion. He used this money to purchase real estate properties including an office building in London and 40% stake in General Motors building in Manhattan, New York City.

Moise Safra died of complications of Parkinson’s disease in 2014 at the age of 79. He had five children with his wife Chella. At the time of his death, he had a net worth of $3.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.


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