Latsis was born in Katakolo—a fishing village in the prefecture of Elis—and was educated at the Pyrgos School of Commerce and the School for Merchant Navy Captains. He began working as a deckhand, eventually holding posts as a ship's captain. He bought his first cargo vessel in 1938 and by the 1960s owned a fleet of ships. In the late 1960s he diversified his business to include oil — establishing Petrola — and construction before gradually expanding into banking and financial services. His European Financial Group owns banks in the UK, Switzerland, Monaco, the Channel Islands, and Greece. The family's $4.4-billion fortune landed Latsis in the 101st position on the 2004 Forbes Billionaire's List.
Latsis lent his private yacht, The Alexandros to notable figures such as The Prince and Princess of Wales, Camilla Parker Bowles, George H. W. Bush, Colin Powell and Marlon Brando.
- Paris Latsis, his grandson, fiancé of Paris Hilton