Seems like the secretive “off the record” Bilderberg group has finally caught the eye of the general public as more than 140 of the world’s most powerful leaders and richest businessmen met at the luxurious Grove Hotel in Hertfordshire, UK for the four-day Bilderberg Conference, sparking protests around the hotel as spectators gathered to jeer the blacked-out limos as they entered the compound. The elite guest list for the Bilderberg meeting includes Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. The forum for prominent politicians, royalty, thinkers, business leaders and other power elites, has been held annually at a series of secluded venues in Europe and North America since 1954 – and what happens at Bilderberg, stays at Bilderberg. No records are kept of the event and the public is kept away by a large security contingent.
Many have expressed concerns with the secrecy surrounding the event. A British lawmaker noted:
“When 130 of the leaders from all across the West get together, and many of these are billionaires, they are people who are immensely wealthy and immensely powerful. And when they all get together, it’s not just to have a chat about the latest problem, it is to concert plans for the future of capitalism in the West that is on a very different scale.”
The Bilderberg Group (or Bilderberg Conference) is an annual private four-day conference of about 150 invited guests from over 20 countries around the world, nearly all of whom are people of influence. About one-third of the attendees are from government and politics with the remaining two-thirds hailing from leaders in finance, industry, labor, education and communications. The groups name derives from the original conference held on May 29, 1954 at the Hotel de Bilderberg in Oosterbeek, Netherlands.
The group describes the conference as “a forum for informal, off-the-record discussions about megatrends and the major issues facing the world” and states that the private nature of the meeting allows participants to “listen, reflect and gather insights” without being bound by the conventions of office or by pre-agreed public positions. There is no detailed agenda, no resolutions are proposed, no votes are taken, and no policy statements are issued – or so they say…
Dr. J.H. Retinger, Bilderberg’s permanent secretary, explained that regardless of what is discussed behind the closed doors, participants are free to act as they see best.
“We do not contemplate taking any direct action. We draw the attention of existing organizations to the points in question; what those organizations do remains their own responsibility.”
Regardless of Bilderberg members’ claims that decisions are not made at the meeting, that they have an open website, and that the proposed “agenda” is made public, detractors say that anytime one hundred of the world’s most influential people gather for a secretive meeting where everything that is discussed is considered “off the record”, it is a threat to society and the democratic process. And that the meetings are highly secretive goes without question. As an example, after the conclusion of this year’s conference, UK Senior Minister Ken Clarke was “summoned to the Commons” to answer questions about the secret Bilderberg group meeting. Clarke promptly refused to answer any questions about what was discussed behind the group’s closed doors.
“In a dismissive statement to MPs, Clarke said this was a ‘first occasion for me as I have never previously answered a question in the House of Commons about a private organization for which the government has no responsibility’. Clarke insisted that everyone who attended the conference did so as an individual and not representing any organization.”
When asked about what occurred at the conference and how Clarke participated in the discussions, an official spokesman told reporters:
“It was a private meeting. He attended Bilderberg on Friday. I don’t have any more to add to that.”
Meanwhile, during the conference, protesters gathered on roads leading into the compound and on barges floating along a canal near the conference in order to protest the cars with blacked-out windows as they entered the gates of the Grove Hotel.
Below is believed to be the official list of 2013 attendees:
BILDERBERG CONFERENCE 2013: FULL LIST OF PARTICIPANTS
Castries, Henri de (chairman)
Chairman and CEO, AXA Group
Achleitner, Paul M.
Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Deutsche Bank AG
Chairman of the Board, Zurich Insurance Group Ltd
Former Chairman, Barclays plc
Chairman, UBM plc
Altman, Roger C.
Executive Chairman, Evercore Partners
Director, Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA
Professor of Economics, Stanford Graduate School of Business
Columnist, Milliyet Newspaper
Deputy Prime Minister for Economic and Financial Affairs
Balls, Edward M.
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
Balsemão, Francisco Pinto
Chairman and CEO, IMPRESA
Managing Editor, Les Echos
Barroso, José M. Durão
President, European Commission
Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Bavinchove, Olivier de
Regius Professor of Medicine, University of Oxford
Chairman and CEO, Telecom Italia S.p.A.
Founder and CEO, Amazon.com
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Minister for Finance
Boxmeer, Jean François van
Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO, Heineken N.V.
Brandtzæg, Svein Richard
President and CEO, Norsk Hydro ASA
Publisher, Der Standard Medienwelt
Former Honorary Chairman, Bilderberg Meetings
Cebrián, Juan Luis
Executive Chairman, Grupo PRISA
Clark, W. Edmund
President and CEO, TD Bank Group
Member of Parliament
Minister of Finance
Business Development Director, International, BAE Systems plc
Cucchiani, Enrico Tommaso
CEO, Intesa Sanpaolo SpA
Minister of State; Former Chairman, Bilderberg Meetings
Senior Partner Emeritus, McKinsey & Company
Dijkgraaf, Robbert H.
Director and Leon Levy Professor, Institute for Advanced Study
President, Retail and Insurance Group, Sabancı Holding A.S.
Group Chief Executive, BP plc
Eberstadt, Nicholas N.
Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy, American Enterprise Institute
Eide, Espen Barth
Minister of Foreign Affairs
President and CEO, Investor AB
Evans, J. Michael
Vice Chairman, Goldman Sachs & Co.
Executive Vice President, Haldor Topsøe A/S
Feldstein, Martin S.
Professor of Economics, Harvard University; President Emeritus, NBER
Former Prime Minister
Fishman, Mark C.
President, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research
Flint, Douglas J.
Group Chairman, HSBC Holdings plc
Geithner, Timothy F.
Former Secretary of the Treasury
Graham, Donald E.
Chairman and CEO, The Washington Post Company
CEO, Grillo-Werke AG
Journalist – Anchorwoman, La 7 TV
Guindos, Luis de
Minister of Economy and Competitiveness
Group Chief Executive, HSBC Holdings plc
Member of the Swiss Council of States
Professor of Economics, Leiden University
Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs,
Harvard Kennedy School
CFO, Royal Dutch Shell plc
Chairman and CEO, Capgemini Group
Chairman and CEO, Inditex Group
Jacobs, Kenneth M.
Chairman and CEO, Lazard
Johnson, James A.
Chairman, Johnson Capital Partners
Jordan, Thomas J.
Chairman of the Governing Board, Swiss National Bank
Jordan, Jr., Vernon E.
Managing Director, Lazard Freres & Co. LLC
Kaplan, Robert D.
Chief Geopolitical Analyst, Stratfor
Founder and CEO, Palantir Technologies
Independent Member, House of Lords
Kissinger, Henry A.
Chairman, Kissinger Associates, Inc.
Chairman and CEO, Alcoa
Knot, Klaas H.W.
President, De Nederlandsche Bank
Koç, Mustafa V.
Chairman, Koç Holding A.S.
CEO, Bilfinger SE
Kravis, Henry R.
Co-Chairman and Co-CEO, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
Senior Fellow and Vice Chair, Hudson Institute
Chairman and CEO, Kudelski Group
Chairman, S&B Industrial Minerals S.A.
Managing Director, International Monetary Fund
Lauk, Kurt J.
Chairman of the Economic Council to the CDU, Berlin
Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership, Harvard Law School
Chairman of the Board of Directors, KBC Group
Party Leader, Free Democratic Party (FDP NRW)
Party Leader, Social Democratic Party (SAP)
President and CEO, Siemens AG
Chairman, Global Counsel; Chairman, Lazard International
Mathews, Jessica T.
President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Chair, Brookfield Asset Management
Editor-in-Chief, The Economist
Montbrial, Thierry de
President, French Institute for International Relations
Former Prime Minister
Mundie, Craig J.
Senior Advisor to the CEO, Microsoft Corporation
Netherlands, H.R.H. Princess Beatrix of The
Ng, Andrew Y.
Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell, plc
Visiting Professor, King’s College London
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Senior Lecturer, Kadir Has University; Columnist, Habertürk Newspaper
Executive Editor, Kathimerini Newspaper
Member of Parliament (CHP)
Member of Parliament (UMP)
Perle, Richard N.
Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
Petraeus, David H.
General, U.S. Army (Retired)
Minister of State and Foreign Affairs
Prichard, J. Robert S.
Chair, Torys LLP
Vice President and Commissioner for Justice, European Commission
Reisman, Heather M.
CEO, Indigo Books & Music Inc.
Professor of Economics, London Business School
Partner, Robertson Robey Associates LLP; Deputy Chairman, HSBC Holdings
Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister
Rubin, Robert E.
Co-Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations; Former Secretary of the Treasury
State Secretary of Finance
Schmidt, Eric E.
Executive Chairman, Google Inc.
Member of the Board of Executive Directors, Oesterreichische Kontrollbank AG
Seguro, António José
Secretary General, Socialist Party
CEO, Michelin Group
Skogen Lund, Kristin
Director General, Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise
Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs,
Sutherland, Peter D.
Chairman, Goldman Sachs International
Former Chairman, Syngenta AG
Group CEO, Prudential plc
Thiel, Peter A.
President, Thiel Capital
Thompson, Craig B.
President and CEO, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Topsøe, Jakob Haldor
Partner, AMBROX Capital A/S
Minister of Finance
Vasella, Daniel L.
Honorary Chairman, Novartis AG
Voser, Peter R.
CEO, Royal Dutch Shell plc
Premier of Saskatchewan
Chairman, Investor AB
Distinguished Visiting Fellow, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Weston, Galen G.
Executive Chairman, Loblaw Companies Limited
Williams of Crosby, Shirley
Member, House of Lords
Wolf, Martin H.
Chief Economics Commentator, The Financial Times
Wolfensohn, James D.
Chairman and CEO, Wolfensohn and Company
Vice Chairman, Barclays plc
Zoellick, Robert B.
Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics