George Soros hands reins of $25bn empire to son Alex

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Alex, 37, and father George Soros

US billionaire philanthropist George Soros has handed over the running of his $25bn (£19.9bn) financial and charitable empire to his son Alex.

The Hungarian-born financier said his son had “earned it”, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Since the 1990s the family’s wealth has been directed to support democracy-building in dozens of countries.

But in recent years the 92-year-old former hedge fund manager has become the focus of anti-Semitic conspiracies.

A Soros spokesperson confirmed to the BBC the details of the interview published on Sunday.

George Soros is also one of the largest donors to the US Democratic Party. Alex, a 37-year-old history graduate, is the second-youngest of his five children.

Alex is the only family member sitting on the investment committee for Soros Fund Management, the vehicle which the Wall Street Journal says is managing the $25bn for the family and the charitable foundation.

Alex took over at the Open Society Foundations (OSF) as chairman in December and is also in charge of his father’s “super PAC” a US mechanism to direct funds to political parties.

While they broadly share the same political views, he told the Wall Street Journal that he is “more political” than his father and that he would campaign against Donald Trump’s attempt to run for a second term as US president.

“As much as I would love to get money out of politics, as long as the other side is doing it, we will have to do it, too,” Alex Soros said.

He said the Open Society Foundations would pursue the same aims it had under his father including free speech, criminal justice reform, minority and refugee rights and backing liberal politicians. But he also wants to include voting rights, abortion and gender equity initiatives while pursuing a more domestic US-focused agenda.

His father, George Soros, was born in Hungary, where as a child he lived through the horror of the Nazi occupation in 1944-45. His family concealed their Jewish identity to survive.

After the war he left Hungary for London, later moving to New York where he went on to make billions through his hedge fund activities.

He gained notoriety in the UK after making $1bn correctly betting the pound would fall in 1992.

When the Berlin wall came down, paving the way for the establishment of democratic governments in the former Soviet bloc, he established the Open Society Foundations (OSF) to support the process. The OSF now spends about $1.5bn a year backing liberal causes, educational organisations and human rights in more than 120 countries.

Some of its causes have rankled the right wing, including tackling racial bias in the US justice system.

The OSF shifted its international operations office from Budapest to Berlin in 2018 after the Hungarian government led by Viktor Orban campaigned explicitly against Mr Soros personally and against the foundation’s work.

Alex Soros is a fan of hip-hop and New York Jets American football team, who is known for having a “high-flying” social life, attending celebrity parties in Cannes and the Hamptons. He has also travelled to remote parts of the Amazon and joined the board of the human rights campaign group, Global Witness.

“Our side has to be better about being more patriotic and inclusive,” he told the paper. “Just because someone votes Trump doesn’t mean they’re lost or racist.”

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