Brazil’s 124 richest people hold assets totaling 544 billion reais equivalent to 238.6 billion dollars or 12.3% of the country’s GDP, which is considered one of the most unequal in the world. The 124 are included in Forbes magazine latest publication that brings together all those Brazilians with fortunes over a billion reais (about 438 million dollars).
Top of the list is Jorge Paulo Lemann chief investor in the 3G Capital fund, which has recently purchased US ketchup manufacturer Heinz and is an important shareholder at brewers AB-InBev and Burger King.
Lemann, 74, has a fortune of 16.7 billion dollars, and is followed by Joseph Safra, of Lebanese origin and owner of the Safra bank with assets valued at 14.9 billion dollars. Most Brazilian fortunes belong to families that dominate corporations in traditional industries such as banking, construction and food.
Among the 124 only one has made his money with Internet and the new technologies: Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of Facebook.
The list suffered a major loss in this year’s Forbes edition, Eike Batista who was once the seventh richest man in the world and has squandered his assets with the dramatic fall in the value of oil company OGX shares and the rest of his conglomerate EBX in recent months.
But these great fortunes contrast with the official indexes which show Brazil is one of the world’s countries with the greatest income and wealth disparities.
In effect the Gini index in 2011 had Brazil with 0.501 points, in a scale from 0 to 1 with the highest disparities among rich and poor as it advances towards 1.
Furthermore 41.5% of all salaries and bonuses are concentrated in 10% of the richest paid staff according to 2010 census data, while half the population of 200 million lived on monthly incomes of less that 130 dollars per capita.