Son of Brazilian billionaire banker Joseph Safra sues his mother and two brothers
The son of one of the world’s wealthiest bankers is suing his own mother and two brothers in a bid to regain what he claims is his rightful share of his late father’s fortune – despite inheriting around $1.8 billion when he died.
Alberto Safra, 41, filed the lawsuit in the New York State Supreme Court Monday, alleging his relatives deliberately diluted his stake in the holding company for the family’s New York-based bank after he left to start a competing firm.
Safra claims his mother, Vicky Safra, 70, and brothers Jacob and David Safra, engaged in various efforts to harm Alberto’s interests in the company started by the late Brazilian Joseph Safra, who died in December 2020.
He alleges they did this when his father, the world’s richest banker and the wealthiest person in Brazil, was forced to amend his will while ‘severely cognitively impaired’ and ‘could not agree to the maneuvers.’
The three siblings, along with their sister Esther Safra Dayan, inherited a little less than half of the late Brazilian tycoon’s nearly $14 billion fortune when he died. Safra left the board of Brazilian-based Banco Safra in 2019.
Alberto Safra (at left), filed the lawsuit Monday, naming younger brother David as one of the defendants. The suit alleges that David and other relatives deliberately diluted his stake in the holding company responsible for the family’s New York branch
The suit alleges that Ablerto’s mother, Vicky Safra (right), David and another brother ‘engaged in various crimes designed to harm Alberto’s valuable interests in the company,’ which was started by the late Brazilian Joseph Safra, one of the wealthiest bankers in the world
The suit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, serves as the latest installment in a bitter battle between the family members, which began when 36-year-old David joined J Safra Group in 2008.
At that point, Alberto writes, his younger brother embarked on a relentless campaign for power within the company, causing constant disagreements between the pair.
Also named in the suit is older brother Jacob, who runs the New York bank
The Sao Paulo-based banker alleges this dynamic continued for more than a decade, with the brothers’ father often smoothing out the spats.
However, when Joseph’s health began to deteriorate, and the brothers were suddenly left without their usual mediator, Alberto claims he was forced to leave the New York bank, which is currently run by their older brother Jacob, 45.
Safra would the resign from his post among Banco Safra’s board of directors in late 2019, at the time citing a dispute with his younger brother.
A year later, their father, whose banking empire and assets was valued as high as $23.2billion at its peak, passed away aged 82.
Alberto has since started his own asset management group in Sao Paulo, but now accuses his relatives of deliberately diluting his stake in Safra National Bank’s holding company, the Safra Group, from 28 percent to 13.5 percent, less than half what he is due.
This change was specified in Joseph’s will, with the stipulation made shortly before Joseph’s death, according to the complaint.
The suit centers around Safra National Bank in Manhattan – and claims the family deliberately diluted his stake in its holding company by forcing Joseph to amend his will on his deathbed
Alberto asserts that his brothers and father’s widow took advantage the banker’s befuddled state on his deathbed to make him edit the bequest, capitalizing on a years long conspiracy to oust him from the banking empire.
‘The Family Defendants kept secret from Alberto that they had hired [the doctor], depriving Alberto of the opportunity to have a doctor of his choosing examine Joseph or otherwise assess Joseph’s mental condition or capacity,’ the lawsuit claims, adding that It was then that the brothers and Vicky besieged Joseph to reduce Alberto’s shares.
The complaint adds that the move also saw the nixed board member’s voting rights reduced from 15.5 percent to 7.4 percent, causing ‘significant repercussions for Alberto’s level of control and oversight over the affairs of’ the Safra National Bank.
The suit demands Alberto’s ‘rightful share’ of the New York-based bank, as Alberto calls it. While Alberto’s complaint alleges the bank operates more than $9billion in assets, a Safra spokesperson told DailyMail.com the firm has an equity value of $1billion. Alberto is demanding 14.5 percent of the company’s total evaluation.
The suit, filed in New York Supreme Court, serves as the latest installment in a bitter battle of succession between the family, which reportedly began when David joined the firm in 2008
Safra National Bank, headquartered in Manhattan on Fifth Avenue, operates more than $9 billion in assets, according to Alberto’s complaint. The bank is run by Jacob, who also serves as the Chairman of the Board of Safra National bank, and runs the family’s Swiss bank, J. Safra Sarasin.
David, meanwhile, while serving as a Board member for holding company Banco Safra in Brazil, also operates Safra Group’s Brazilian real estate holdings.
The siblings each inherited roughly $1.8billion a piece after their father’s death.
The siblings’ mother and Joseph’s widow inherited an estimated $7.4 billion.
Lawyers for Safra in a statement Monday said he was ‘compelled’ to file the suit to protect his rights.
Attorney Michael Carlinsky said: ‘It is unfortunate that David and Jacob Safra chose to take such improper actions against him.’
A spokesperson for the Safra Group responded to Carlinsky’s assertion in a statement to DailyMail.com, that insisted that ‘all actions taken by the family with respect to Alberto Safra were legal.
‘Joseph Safra himself specifically took these actions related to Alberto Safra of his own volition well over a year before Joseph Safra passed away,’ a spokesperson for the J Safra family said. ‘To assert otherwise is incorrect.’
The rep added that Alberto left the Banco Safra board in 2019 ‘in anticipation of his inheritance,’ shorltly after receiving another unspecified sum from his father.
‘In anticipation of his inheritance, Alberto left Banco Safra, without heeding the appeals made personally by his father and started a business competing with Banco Safra,’ the rep said, adding that Alberto ‘even harassed and hired several executives of the Group.’
The spokesperson elaborated: ‘On that occasion Mr. Joseph Safra 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 Safra 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.’
Speaking for the Safras, the rep said: ‘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.’
Source of data and images: dailymail