Brazilian banker Joseph Safra was one of the wealthiest people in the world when he died in December of 2020. He was the richest person in Brazil. Unfortunately, all is not well in the Safra banking empire. Roughly two years after his passing, one of Joseph's sons is suing his mother and two brothers alleging that they deliberately diluted his stake in Safra Bank of New York.
Alberto Safra has reportedly filed suit in New York against mother Vicky Safra and brothers Jacob and David Safra, claiming they colluded against him and forcing him out of the family business. Alberto also released a press statement explaining why he's taken the unusual step of suing his own family over alleged corporate misconduct:
"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."
Alberto's lawsuit is only the latest salvo in a schism in the Safra family that goes much further back than Joseph's death. That schism came to a head in late 2019, when Alberto left the Banco Safra board of directors reportedly following "a dispute" with brother and fellow board member David Safra, going on to start his own rival firm.
Alberto's lawsuit accuses his family of taking advantage of their father's diminished mental capacity near the end of his life, making changes in his will to cut down his stake in Safra National Bank of New York from 28% to less than half that. Per the lawsuit:
"The Family Defendants kept secret from Alberto that they had hired [the doctor treating Joseph], depriving Alberto of the opportunity to have a doctor of his choosing examine Joseph or otherwise assess Joseph's mental condition or capacity."
In a press statement of its own, the company also disputes Alberto's characterization of his exit from the company board:
"Joseph Safra himself specifically took these actions related to Alberto Safra of his own volition well over a year before Joseph Safra passed away…To assert otherwise is incorrect."
Alberto is apparently seeking 14.5% of the family fortune, but even the value of the company is subject to dispute. The lawsuit alleges that the Safra National Bank has more than $9 billion worth of assets, while a spokesperson for the company told Daily Mail that the company's total equity value was closer to $1 billion at the end of 2021.
A spokesperson representing the J Safra family (minus Alberto) provided the following two statements to CelebrityNetWorth after the above article was published:
"A few months after receiving donations from Mr. Joseph Safra , 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, having even harassed and hired several executives of the Group.
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.
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."
In response to the statement made to Daily Mail by Alberto Safra's lawyer Mr Carlinsky , the J Safra family stated:
"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. To assert otherwise is incorrect."