Edmond Safra

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Person.png Edmond Safra  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(Financier, Businessman, billionaire, banker)
Edmond Safra.png
Born6 August 1932
Beirut, Lebanon
Died3 December 1999 (Age 67)
Cause of death
NationalityLebanese, Brazilian
SpouseLily Watkins
Founder ofHermitage Capital Management
Member ofJeffrey Epstein/Black book, The 1001 Club
Victim ofpremature death
InterestsIran Contra
Interest ofMartin Armstrong, Empress Bianca
Banker who involved in drug, gold and currency trafficking, money laundering and organised crime, including what became known as Iran Contra. Died in suspicious fire.

Edmond J. Safra was a Lebanese-Brazilian banker who involved in drug, gold and currency trafficking, money laundering and organised crime, including what became known as Iran Contra. He was married to Lily Watkins from 1976 until his death in suspicious fire.


Edmond J. Safra was born in Beirut, into a Jewish family whose banking business began during the Ottoman Empire a century earlier. The Safra family was engaged in the financing of trade between Aleppo, Constantinople and Alexandria.[1] The patriarch of the contemporary Safra dynasty, Jacob E. Safra he established his own bank in Beirut in 1920, Jacob Safra Maison de Banque.

His son, Edmond J. Safra, founded a bank in Switzerland before arriving in New York in the early 1960s to establish what became Republic National Bank. Within twenty years, Republic grew to be one of America’s largest banks. Having successfully built a global network of banking, he championed the Safra family principles of discretion.[2]


As far back as 1957, Edmond Safra was named as a drug trafficker in a US Bureau of Narcotics report. The accusation was later withdrawn, but until his death Safra was the inspiration for countless rumours that linked him to drug, gold and currency trafficking, money laundering and organised crime. Among the allegations was the suggestion that he was involved in the Iran-Contra affair; that he arranged the murder of a security specialist who had discovered a link between him and the arms-for-hostages deal; that he had double-crossed the Medellin cocaine cartel; that he was a confrère of mafia legend Meyer Lansky; and that Republic had laundered the drug-trafficking profits of Panama's General Noriega.[3]


In December 1999, Safra and his nurse were suffocated by fumes in a fire deliberately lit at the billionaire's Monaco home,[4][5][6] where he apparently felt so safe that he did not have his Mossad trained bodyguards stay the night.[7] Other accounts hold that it was his wife, Lily Safra, who had moved these security guards to the family estate in France - videotape from key security cameras was also said to have gone missing.[8]

His death made Bill Browder majority shareholder of Hermitage Capital Management.[9] Dominick Dunne, who investigated the case, was told that two bullets were found in his body.[10][11] The Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation continues to support educational, religious, medical, cultural, and humanitarian causes and organizations.

Another bodyguard and nurse, American Ted Maher, who was sharing the night shift with Torrente at the time, was arrested under suspicion of starting the fire,[12] and was convicted of the crime in 2002 by the Monaco Court. He claims that he was attacked by two masked men and, unable to figure out how to trigger the Safra's complex security system, started the fire in an attempt to trigger the system. The prosecution argued he was attempting to carry out a daring rescue, and thus increase his standing in the Safra family's eyes, but lost control of the fire unintentionally.[13]