The infamously secretive gathering of global elites known as the Bilderberg Group is underway this week at the Grove Hotel, a golf resort in the United Kingdom’s Watford, Hertfordshire.
Each year since 1954 between 120-150 political leaders and major players in international industry, finance and academia have gathered for the Bilderberg conference in a heavily-guarded location. Billed as an informal discussion amongst some of the world’s most influential denizens, Bilderberg organizers say the meeting is intended as an opportunity to discuss “megatrends and the major issues facing the world.”
This year, according to the Bilderberg group website, around 140 participants from 21 European and North American countries are in attendance at the meeting.
The group lists key topics of discussion as follows:
• Can the US and Europe grow faster and create jobs?
• Jobs, entitlement and debt
• How big data is changing almost everything
• Nationalism and populism
• US foreign policy
• Africa’s challenges
• Cyber warfare and the proliferation of asymmetric threats
• Major trends in medical research
• Online education: promise and impacts
• Politics of the European Union
• Developments in the Middle East
• Current affairs
Critics of Bilderberg’s secretive meetings credit Bilderberger’s with clandestine manipulation of international affairs over the decades causing military conflict and strife for certain populations. Some people also believe that Bilderbergers have an especially heavy interest in global economic manipulation and are even involved in picking candidates for U.S. Presidential elections.
The late journalist Jim Tucker spent 25 years working to lift Bilderberg’s veil of secrecy. In his 2005 book, Bilderberg Diary, Tucker offers readers a backstory on some of the powerful elite with strong ties to the conference. He also explains how the group may have had a direct hand in the implementation of the U.S.’s Federal Reserve system:
The roots of Bilderberg go back centuries, when international moneychangers would secretly manipulate the economy to enrich themselves and enslave ordinary people.
The Rothschilds of Britain and Europe have met secretly with other financiers for centuries, as did the Rockefellers of America.
In the beginning, the Rothschilds were “Red Shields” because of the ornament on their door and the Rockefellers of Germany were “Rye Fields” because of their crops.
One of the most significant such meetings took place in the spring of 1908, led by Sen. Nelson Aldrich of Rhode Island, whose family married into the Rockefeller clan, accounting for the late Gov. Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller’s given name. It was held on Jekyll Island off the Georgia coast.
The late B.C. Forbes, editor of Forbes magazine, reported what transpired at this meeting of the world’s wealthy. With Aldrich were Henry Davidson, of J.P. Morgan and Co.; Frank Vanderlip, president of the National City Bank; Paul Warburg, of Kuhn Loeb and Co., and A. Piatt Andrew, assistant secretary of the treasury.
They emerged from this secret meeting with a plan for “a scientific currency system for the United States.” They had the power to pressure Congress into establishing the Federal Reserve Board, a private group of bankers who meet to shape the money supply.
But in 1954, the international financiers decided that the world had become so small, and their interests intersected so often, that they must have regular, annual meetings. That year, they met at the Bilderberg Hotel in Holland, and took the name “Bilderberg” for themselves.
They have met behind sealed-off walls and armed guards at plush resorts ever since. Secrecy prevailed briefly, until the late journalist, Westbrook Pegler, exposed Bilderberg in 1957. However, Chatham House rules have remained in effect, whereby meetings are held privately and attendees are prohibited from talking on the record about what transpired.
With no access for journalists— except for the heads of major media organizations who are members of the conference, and sworn to secrecy— little can be known about what happens behind closed doors during the conference. This year, however, the conference organizers reportedly set up a zone in close proximity to the conference, provided journalists with a list of attendees and even a “media contact” email address. Reports indicate that the contact address was then promptly removed from the website and many queries went unanswered.
Charlie Skelton, writing for the British news outlet The Guardian, said that he was one of the lucky journalists to receive a reply—even if it leaves much to be desired:
Before the media contact was snatched away, I did manage a friendly email exchange, and my questions were promptly answered by a spokesman for the conference. The gist of the answers was this: none of the delegates pay to attend; no delegates join by phone or satellite; the conference programme “never includes any entertainment or performances”; and, as for the food, it’s “buffet only, all days, all meals”.
Skelton also reports that there may be a substantial amount of internal pressure from some Bilderberg attendees to provide more public information about the goings on of the conference.
But the massive security presence, checkpoints and restricted access areas outside of the conference in Watford this year make it clear that if transparency is on the agenda, it will come slowly.
Find below a list of attendees provided by Bilderberg organizers:
Chairman: Henri de Castries, Chairman and CEO, AXA Group
Paul M. Achleitner, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Deutsche Bank AG
Josef Ackermann, Chairman of the Board, Zurich Insurance Group Ltd
Marcus Agius, Former Chairman, Barclays plc
Helen Alexander, Chairman, UBM plc
Roger C. Altman, Executive Chairman, Evercore Partners
Matti Apunen, Director, Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA
Susan Athey, Professor of Economics, Stanford Graduate School of Business
Aslı Aydıntaşbaş, Columnist, Milliyet Newspaper
Ali Babacan, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister for Economic and Financial Affairs
Ed Balls, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
Francisco Pinto Balsemão, Chairman and CEO, IMPRESA
Nicolas Barré, Managing Editor, Les Echos
José Manuel Barroso, President, European Commission
Nicolas Baverez, Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Olivier de Bavinchove, Commander, Eurocorps
John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine, University of Oxford
Franco Bernabè, Chairman and CEO, Telecom Italia S.p.A.
Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, Amazon.com
Carl Bildt, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs
Anders Borg, Swedish Minister for Finance
Jean François van Boxmeer, CEO, Heineken
Svein Richard Brandtzæg, President and CEO, Norsk Hydro ASA
Oscar Bronner, Publisher, Der Standard Medienwelt
Peter Carrington, Former Honorary Chairman, Bilderberg Meetings
Juan Luis Cebrián, Executive Chairman, Grupo PRISA
Edmund Clark, President and CEO, TD Bank Group
Kenneth Clarke, Cabinet Minister
Bjarne Corydon, Danish Minister of Finance
Sherard Cowper-Coles, Business Development Director, International, BAE Systems plc
Enrico Cucchiani, CEO, Intesa Sanpaolo SpA
Etienne Davignon, Belgian Minister of State; Former Chairman, Bilderberg Meetings
Ian Davis, Senior Partner Emeritus, McKinsey & Company
Robbert H. Dijkgraaf, Director and Leon Levy Professor, Institute for Advanced Study
Haluk Dinçer, President, Retail and Insurance Group, Sabancı Holding A.S.
Robert Dudley, Group Chief Executive, BP plc
Nicholas N. Eberstadt, Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy, American Enterprise Institute
Espen Barth Eide, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs
Börje Ekholm, President and CEO, Investor AB
Thomas Enders, CEO, EADS
J. Michael Evans, Vice Chairman, Goldman Sachs & Co.
Ulrik Federspiel, Executive Vice President, Haldor Topsøe A/S
Martin S.Feldstein, Professor of Economics, Harvard University; President Emeritus, NBER
François Fillon, Former French Prime Minister
Mark C. Fishman, President, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research
Douglas J. Flint, Group Chairman, HSBC Holdings plc
Paul Gallagher, Senior Counsel
Timothy F Geithner, Former Secretary of the Treasury
Michael Gfoeller, US Political Consultant
Donald E. Graham, Chairman and CEO, The Washington Post Company
Ulrich Grillo, CEO, Grillo-Werke AG
Lilli Gruber, Journalist – Anchorwoman, La 7 TV
Luis de Guindos, Spanish Minister of Economy and Competitiveness
Stuart Gulliver, Group Chief Executive, HSBC Holdings plc
Felix Gutzwiller, Member of the Swiss Council of States
Victor Halberstadt, Professor of Economics, Leiden University; Former Honorary Secretary General of Bilderberg Meetings
Olli Heinonen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
Simon Henry, CFO, Royal Dutch Shell plc
Paul Hermelin, Chairman and CEO, Capgemini Group
Pablo Isla, Chairman and CEO, Inditex Group
Kenneth M. Jacobs, Chairman and CEO, Lazard
James A. Johnson, Chairman, Johnson Capital Partners
Thomas J. Jordan, Chairman of the Governing Board, Swiss National Bank
Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Managing Director, Lazard Freres & Co. LLC
Robert D. Kaplan, Chief Geopolitical Analyst, Stratfor
Alex Karp, Founder and CEO, Palantir Technologies
John Kerr, Independent Member, House of Lords
Henry A. Kissinger, Chairman, Kissinger Associates, Inc.
Klaus Kleinfeld, Chairman and CEO, Alcoa
Klaas H.W. Knot, President, De Nederlandsche Bank
Mustafa V Koç,. Chairman, Koç Holding A.S.
Roland Koch, CEO, Bilfinger SE
Henry R. Kravis, Co-Chairman and Co-CEO, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
Marie-Josée Kravis, Senior Fellow and Vice Chair, Hudson Institute
André Kudelski, Chairman and CEO, Kudelski Group
Ulysses Kyriacopoulos, Chairman, S&B Industrial Minerals S.A.
Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund
J. Kurt Lauk, Chairman of the Economic Council to the CDU, Berlin
Lawrence Lessig, Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership, Harvard Law School
Thomas Leysen, Chairman of the Board of Directors, KBC Group
Christian Lindner, Party Leader, Free Democratic Party (FDP NRW)
Stefan Löfven, Party Leader, Social Democratic Party (SAP)
Peter Löscher, President and CEO, Siemens AG
Peter Mandelson, Chairman, Global Counsel; Chairman, Lazard International
Jessica T. Mathews, President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Frank McKenna, Chair, Brookfield Asset Management
John Micklethwait, Editor-in-Chief, The Economist
Thierry de Montbrial, President, French Institute for International Relations
Mario Monti, Former Italian Prime Minister
Craig J. Mundie, Senior Advisor to the CEO, Microsoft Corporation
Alberto Nagel, CEO, Mediobanca
H.R.H. Princess Beatrix of The Netherlands
Andrew Y.Ng, Co-Founder, Coursera
Jorma Ollila, Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell, plc
David Omand, Visiting Professor, King’s College London
George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer
Emanuele Ottolenghi, Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Soli Özel, Senior Lecturer, Kadir Has University; Columnist, Habertürk Newspaper
Alexis Papahelas, Executive Editor, Kathimerini Newspaper
Şafak Pavey, Turkish MP
Valérie Pécresse, French MP
Richard N. Perle, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
David H. Petraeus, General, U.S. Army (Retired)
Paulo Portas, Portugal Minister of State and Foreign Affairs
J. Robert S Prichard, Chair, Torys LLP
Viviane Reding, Vice President and Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, European Commission
Heather M. Reisman, CEO, Indigo Books & Music Inc.
Hélène Rey, Professor of Economics, London Business School
Simon Robertson, Partner, Robertson Robey Associates LLP; Deputy Chairman, HSBC Holdings
Gianfelice Rocca, Chairman,Techint Group
Jacek Rostowski, Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister
Robert E. Rubin, Co-Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations; Former Secretary of the Treasury
Mark Rutte, Dutch Prime Minister
Andreas Schieder, Austrian State Secretary of Finance
Eric E. Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google Inc.
Rudolf Scholten, Member of the Board of Executive Directors, Oesterreichische Kontrollbank AG
António José Seguro, Secretary General, Portuguese Socialist Party
Jean-Dominique Senard, CEO, Michelin Group
Kristin Skogen Lund, Director General, Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise
Anne-Marie Slaughter, Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University
Peter D. Sutherland, Chairman, Goldman Sachs International
Martin Taylor, Former Chairman, Syngenta AG
Tidjane Thiam, Group CEO, Prudential plc
Peter A. Thiel, President, Thiel Capital
Craig B. Thompson, President and CEO, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Jakob Haldor Topsøe, Partner, AMBROX Capital A/S
Jutta Urpilainen, Finnish Minister of Finance
Daniel L. Vasella, Honorary Chairman, Novartis AG
Peter R. Voser, CEO, Royal Dutch Shell plc
Brad Wall, Premier of Saskatchewan Province, Canada
Jacob Wallenberg, Chairman, Investor AB
Kevin Warsh, Distinguished Visiting Fellow, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Galen G.Weston, Executive Chairman, Loblaw Companies Limited
Baroness Williams of Crosby, Member, House of Lords
Martin H. Wolf, Chief Economics Commentator, The Financial Times
James D. Wolfensohn, Chairman and CEO, Wolfensohn and Company
David Wright, Vice Chairman, Barclays plc
Robert B. Zoellick, Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics