Log in
A+ A A-

The richest Greek woman (vid)

Featured The richest Greek woman (vid)

Vicky Safra, the richest Greek woman in the world with a fortune of $20.4 billion is unknown in Greece

She was born in Athens and hails from Thessaloniki, left as an immigrant to Brazil and today, together with her children, moves the strings of a global giant with banks and businesses on 4 continents - Now she is interested in Spyros Latsis' EFG International.

The focus of interest in Swiss banking circles in recent weeks' revolves around EFG International's ownership change scenarios.

The powerful EFG (European Financial Group) Bank based in Zurich, is headed by leading Greek businessman Spyros Latsis, who its major shareholder holding 45.4% through,and thus the bank is under his complete control.

Two weeks ago, scenarios saw another very powerful Swiss bank, Julius Baer, ​​on the verge of acquiring EFG, which would lead to the creation of a financial giant with assets of over 600 billion dollars and particular influence in private banking. But the deal ultimately fell through.

In the last couple of days, however, new scenarios emerged , this time seeing interest in EFG International expressed by J. Safra Sarasin. Owned by the Safra family, at the helm of which is a Greek woman. Vicky Safra, the richest Greek woman in the world, as her family fortune currently exceeds 20.4 billion dollars, and who is No. 94 on the Forbes list.

Vicky Safra was born in Thessaloniki but her family immigrated to Brazil in the 1950s. She retained her Greek citizenship but also holds a Brazilian passport. She is proud of her Greek origin, she speaks Greek, she visits Greece often, but now lives most of her time in Switzerland.

Life like a soap opera

She met her future husband Joseph Safra, who would later become one of the world's leading bankers when she was just 17, in São Paulo, where they would live together for the next 50 years.

Many call her "female Onassis", alluding to the legendary Greek tycoon’s immigration to South America. But that’s as far as the simile goes. Onassis was the definition of self-made. Vicky Safra inherited from her husband a banking empire, with the amount of assets she manages now estimated at 90 billion. She stood by him and was his pillar of support, but he was the pioneer and creator, and she a most capable wife, and together with her children, his worthy heir.

The Safra fortune took two centuries to build and spanned four continents, making Vicky Safra the richest Greek woman, and the second richest person in Brazil, and 15th richest woman in the world. Heir, along with her children, to the incredible fortune of her husband who passed away in 2020. She has proven a competent heiress, as the family fortune has been on the rise ever since, soaring to new highs every year.

In her youth she was described as a dark, sparkling beauty, and her beauty still lingers to this day in her seventies. She is a veritable Greek, born in Thessaloniki, naturalized Brazilian, living for over a decade in Crans Montana, Switzerland, home to the most rich and famous

Her mansion is across from Sophia Loren's. Her family, of Jewish origin, arrived in Brazil in 1960, when Vicky was still a small child. The Sarfatis - her maiden name - developed close friendships with the Safra family, also of Jewish origin, who arrived in São Paulo three years later. Her marriage sprung from the acquaintance.

"It was love at first sight, a love that would last until the last moment of life," Joseph confessed late in his life about his relationship with Vicky, with whom he had four children, the other heirs to the empire: Jacob, Esther, Alberto and David.

An empire born in 1840 in Aleppo

The first traces of the Safra fortune and their first business presence can be traced to the 1840s, when in today's Aleppo, Syria, the Safra family (5 generations ago) founded a business that functioned as a small financial bank for trade missions. Safra Frères & Cie, as it was called, provided resources for camel caravans that carried trade across the Middle East in the era of the then Ottoman Empire.

The bank later expanded to Alexandria and Constantinople. With the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the Safra family decided to move their operation to Beirut, Lebanon, where in 1929 Jacob, Joseph's father, founded the Jacob E. Safra Bank.

Jacob Safra, followed by Joseph and his other two sons, Edmund and Moses, later moved to Brazil, influenced by the business opportunities generously offered by the post-war period. There he founded Safra Importaçâo e Comércio, trading in machinery, metals, cattle and livestock products. Later he acquired Banco das Indâstrias in 1972 resulting in the subsequent spectacular growth of the group worldwide.

Banking giant

Joseph succeeded his father, becoming a key figure in the global financial system, mainly in private banking and wealth management, but at the same time he developed his group in real estate, telecommunications, commodity trading and the paper industry.

Today, the Safra Group controls Banco Safra SA, Safra National Bank of New York and J. Safra Sarasin of Switzerland, companies with nearly $85 billion in banking assets.