Bilderberg 2016: It’s not a conspiracy of the global superelite. It’s a summer school for the influential, say organisers
Bilderberg Conference is not about plotting world domination - says Bilderberg spokesman
No minutes of the 2016 Bilderberg Conference in Dresden will be taken. Tight security will be provided by the German police, with logistical support from Airbus, one of the world’s biggest arms dealers.
No reporters will be allowed into the Taschenbergpalais Hotel in Dresden to hear what Henry Kissinger says to the Goldman Sachs board member as the prime ministers, financiers, oil executives, and former heads of the CIA and MI6 add their thoughts.
But it’s not a conspiracy of the global superelite. It’s just a three-day “summer school for the influential.”
And that’s the truth, because we've been told it, by none other than one of the Bilderberg Group’s own spokespeople.
Rather incredibly for an organisation that states – or understates – that it has “never sought any public attention”, spokespeople for it actually exist. Although they seem to prefer giving information ‘for background’ rather than for, you know, quoting.
They also seem to spend most of their time denying rumours: Trump is coming to Bilderberg, Bilderberg is going to stop Trump, that sort of thing. One of the favourite “hardy annuals” is the story about a guy looking in a dustbin and finding the real Bilderberg agenda, the one with global domination as item number one.
But it’s not true, because the Bilderberg spokesman told us.
This year’s agenda, he said, will include China, Europe, migration, the Middle East, Russia and the “geo-politics of energy and commodity prices”.
It will NOT, apparently, include global domination, fixing who becomes US president, and planning wars – as has been alleged over the Kosovo conflict. That’s not what Bilderberg is about, the charming spokesman assured us.
“One German political magazine called it ‘a summer school for the influential’,” he said, “Which was an interesting way of looking at it.
“The participants can come here for three or four days and learn about geopolitics, technology, megatrends.
“It’s a place to gain insights and gather information.”
And yet those rumours will keep coming.
- Bilderberg 2015: George Osborne and Ed Balls attend meeting of global elite in Austria
- Bilderberg Group meeting: Big business set to lobby politicians on the future of the EU
- Ed Balls 'refused entry' to annual secretive Bilderberg gathering of global leaders
Especially this year, with a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU looming. And with Bilderberg chairman Count Henri de Castries, he of the castle in Anjou, the top role in global insurance giant AXA, and the final say on who is invited and who is left behind the security barrier, telling the Financial Times in January that Brexit, combined with an unreformed EU would be a “disaster for everyone.”
No wonder Conservative MP and Brexit enthusiast Philip Hollobone, perhaps aware of George Osborne’s presence at Bilderberg 2015, decided to ask questions in the House in March.
“How can it be in any way acceptable for members of Her Majesty’s Government to encourage foreign Heads of State to comment on the EU referendum?” he demanded. “Does this not demonstrate the fact that the international Bilderberg group is ganging up against the British people?”
A close reading of the internet suggests quite a few of ‘the people’ agreed with him.
In fact it almost seems the conspiracy theories started the moment the first Bilderberg meeting was held in 1954, in the Hotel de Bilderberg in the Dutch village of Oosterbeck.
It probably didn’t help that one of the driving forces in these “informal discussions designed to foster dialogue between Europe and North America” was Józef Retinger, a Sorbonne-educated Pole who was a leading light in the European Movement that inspired the creation of the EU.
And if Retinger really wanted to stop the conspiracy theorists, he probably shouldn’t have asked Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands to help out with the meetings.
Prince Bernhard may have gone to his grave swearing he had never been a committed Nazi, with his party membership while at a Berlin university in the early 1930s being explained by a desire to evade Nazi tests imposed on students. He may also have subsequently fled to England and flown bombing missions against Nazi Germany. But try telling that to the internet.
And on the very, very rare occasions that Bilderbergers talk to journalists about Bilderberg, their comments can seem a little … too illuminating. (Although for the avoidance of doubt, that’s illuminating not Illuminati.)
When Denis Healey, ex-Labour Chancellor, Bilderberg founder and 30 years a steering committee member, spoke to Jon Ronson, the author of Them: Adventures With Extremists, he said: “To say we were striving for a one-world government is exaggerated, but not wholly unfair.
“Those of us in Bilderberg felt we couldn't go on forever fighting one another for nothing and killing people. So we felt that a single community throughout the world would be a good thing."
In remarks that get fewer Google hits, Healey did also say that Ronson’s suggestion of a conspiracy was "Idiocy! Crap!”
“I've never heard such crap!” he added. “That isn't a conspiracy! That is the world. It is the way things are done. And quite rightly so."
Then again, Healey did also tell Ronson to “f*** off” when he asked to see the photos the Labour grandee had taken of all his Bilderberg trips.
Intriguingly, Healey mentioned that when it came to how the steering committee proposed invitees: “We make a point of getting along younger politicians who are obviously rising, to bring them together with financiers and industrialists who offer them wise words. It increases the chance of having a sensible global policy."
And look what happened to those young hopeful who went to Bilderberg and learned from financiers and industrialists what sensible global policy looks like: Margaret Thatcher allegedly impressed David Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger at Bilderberg 1975, and became PM in 1979.
Bill Clinton was but a humble governor of Arkansas when he attended Bilderberg 1991. He was elected US President a year later. And then there’s globe-trottin’, dictator advisin’ Tony Blair: Bilderberg attendee 1993, PM 1997.
Pure coincidence, The Independent was assured. For every hopeful who made it to the top job, you could find two who went nowhere. And when we suggested that the two who went nowhere did so because they failed to please Bilderberg’s financiers and industrialists, the smooth-talking spokesman just laughed.
“Oh, come on!” he said.
Which just left surely the greatest Bilderberg revelation of them all. The bombshell was dropped in 2013. That year the global superelite converged not on Washington, not on Wall Street or Westminster, but on Watford.
Despite what you might have thought, Watford, Hertfordshire, was – judging by the private helicopters and limousines converging on the Grove Hotel spa and golf resort – the epicentre of world domination.
Or maybe not.
“The hotel just had really good facilities,” the spokesman assured us. “There’s no exciting explanation.”
Of course there isn’t. Is there?
Bilderberg 2016: Who is attending?
The Bilderberg organisers have released a list those who will be present from June 9-12 for a three-day meeting chaired by a French count (and chairman of the global insurance giant AXA), who likes to spend his weekends at his castle in Anjou.
Among 126 participants discussing an agenda that – we are also told – will include China, Europe, migration, the Middle East, Russia and the “geo-politics of energy and commodity prices”, will be Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, and Jose Manuel Barroso, the former president of the European Commission.
Unlike last year, British Chancellor George Osborne will not be present. Although Michael O’Leary, the controversial CEO of Ryanair will.
It might also be worth paying attention to the future fortunes of attendees who seem obscure. Bill Clinton was a conference attendee in 1991, as a mere governor of Arkansas, a year before he was elected US President. Tony Blair was only a shadow minister when he got his invitation – (you can’t apply to attend, you must be invited) – in 1993. Conference organisers have previously insisted there is no conspiracy to crowbar their chosen people into top jobs, they just have excellent talent spotters.
But for now, the more eye-catching Bilderberg attendees due to be rubbing shoulders with senior representatives of Deutsche Bank, the European Central Bank and Lazard – as well as oil giants Shell and BP - will be:
Henri de Castries
When he is not at his home on the Boulevard Saint-Germain, on Paris’ left bank, Henri de Castries, who will be the chairman of the 2016 Bilderberg Conference, can, according to the left-leaning French newspaper Libération, often be found relaxing in his castle in rural Anjou.
Libération described the 61-year-old fifth Count of Castries as a “highbrow” member of a family whose ancestors fought in the Crusades in the 11th and 13th Century.
Continuing the military tradition, his father Comte François de La Croix de Castries reportedly served as a soldier in Korea – as well as the more controversial colonial theatres of French Indochina and Algeria.
The Bilderberg Conference chairman, however, chose a civilian career, attending the École Nationale d'Administration, (ENA) the ‘Grande École’ often regarded as a factory for producing future French prime ministers and presidents including Jacques Chirac, Francois Hollande and Alain Juppé – (who was listed as an attendee at last year’s Bilderberg Conference.)
After ENA, Mr de Castries audited on behalf of the Minister of Finances of France and became a member of the French Treasury in 1984, where he participated in the privatisations initiated by the Chirac government.
He joined AXA in 1989 and in May 2000 he became chairman and chief executive of the Paris-based global insurance group, which is thought to have assets of 552 billion euros (£430 billion.)
Sir John Sawers
Sir John is listed by the Bilderberg organisers as “Chairman and Partner, Macro Advisory Partners”, a consultancy that according to its website provides corporations and governments with “strategic insights to navigate the intersection of global markets, geopolitics and government policy.”
Sir John is also a former head of the Secret Intelligence Service MI6. Prior to heading MI6 between 2009 and 2014, Sir John was Foreign Policy Advisor to Tony Blair from 1999 to 2001 and Political Director of the Foreign Office (2003-7).
He also spent three months in Baghdad in 2003 as Britain’s Special Representative to Iraq, helping to establish the country’s transitional government after the invasion.
In May 2015 the oil and gas giant BP appointed Sir John to its board – on what was reported to have been a £90,000 salary.
It was thought he had been brought in to help BP deal with difficult political environments in some of the countries in which it operated.
BP’s chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, said Sir John “brings extensive experience of international affairs and geopolitics”.
BP will also be represented at the Bilderberg meeting by Robert Dudley, its group chief executive.
Listed on the Bilderberg website as “Chairman, KKR Global Institute”, Mr Petraeus is also a former director of the CIA.
Appointed by Geroge W Bush as the general commanding the multinational force in Iraq in 2007, he orchestrated what became known as ‘the surge’, bringing in 30,000 more troops to the country in a move which appeared to quell the insurgency there.
An expert in counter-insurgency, he was made director of the CIA by Barack Obama in 2011. He resigned, however, in November 2012 after it was reported that he had had an affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell.
James A Johnson
He’s listed by the Bilderberg organisers as “Chairman, Johnson Capital Partners.”
He also happens to be a long-serving Goldman Sachs board member who has been called “Washington DC’s Medici” – a reference to Italy’s Medici family, the so-called “Godfathers of the Renaissance” who produced three popes, prospered in banking and sponsored the arts.
In 2008 it was reported that Mr Johnson was vetting Barack Obama’s potential vice-presidential candidates, as he had chosen running mates for Walter Mondale in 1984, and John Kerry in 2004.
As well as setting up a commercial strategy consultancy with former US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, Mr Johnson, 72, served as chairman and chief executive to the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) between 1991 and 1998.
His salary was reported to have been $21 million (£14.5 million) by the time he left Fannie Mae – ten years before, at the height of the global economic crisis of 2008, it had to be taken over by the US government.
Atlantic Magazine once described Mr Johnson as “famously reluctant to talk to the Press, which is one reason why he has become a trusted advisor to so many politicians.”
As the CEO of the Deutsche Börse, Mr Kengeter will become a leading figure in one of the most important financial institutions in the world when the merger between the Börse and the London Stock Exchange is completed at the end of this year or in early 2017.
With the London Stock Exchange Group already owning the Milan-based Borsa Italia, the planned merger – announced in February - will create one of the world’s largest exchange companies with a combined value thought to be in the region of £21 billion.
Deutsche Börse shareholders will own 54.4 per cent of the new holding company UK TopCo. Reporting on the merger, The Financial Times described it as evidence of “an ambitious expansion strategy” devised by Mr Kengeter, a 49-year-old the newspaper described as “a starkly ambitious former Goldman Sachs banker who pursues extreme skiing in his spare time.”
Source: Adam Lusher / Independent
Bilderberg 2016: Full list of attendees
Castries, Henri de (FRA), Chairman and CEO, AXA Group
Aboutaleb, Ahmed (NLD), Mayor, City of Rotterdam
Achleitner, Paul M. (DEU), Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Deutsche Bank AG
Agius, Marcus (GBR), Chairman, PA Consulting Group
Ahrenkiel, Thomas (DNK), Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence
Albuquerque, Maria Luís (PRT), Former Minister of Finance; MP, Social Democratic Party
Alierta, César (ESP), Executive Chairman and CEO, Telefónica
Altman, Roger C. (USA), Executive Chairman, Evercore
Altman, Sam (USA), President, Y Combinator
Andersson, Magdalena (SWE), Minister of Finance
Applebaum, Anne (USA), Columnist Washington Post; Director of the Transitions Forum, Legatum Institute
Apunen, Matti (FIN), Director, Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA
Aydin-Düzgit, Senem (TUR), Associate Professor and Jean Monnet Chair, Istanbul Bilgi University
Barbizet, Patricia (FRA), CEO, Artemis
Barroso, José M. Durão (PRT), Former President of the European Commission
Baverez, Nicolas (FRA), Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
Bengio, Yoshua (CAN), Professor in Computer Science and Operations Research, University of Montreal
Benko, René (AUT), Founder and Chairman of the Advisory Board, SIGNA Holding GmbH
Bernabè, Franco (ITA), Chairman, CartaSi S.p.A.
Beurden, Ben van (NLD), CEO, Royal Dutch Shell plc
Blanchard, Olivier (FRA), Fred Bergsten Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute
Botín, Ana P. (ESP), Executive Chairman, Banco Santander
Brandtzæg, Svein Richard (NOR), President and CEO, Norsk Hydro ASA
Breedlove, Philip M. (INT), Former Supreme Allied Commander Europe
Brende, Børge (NOR), Minister of Foreign Affairs
Burns, William J. (USA), President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Cebrián, Juan Luis (ESP), Executive Chairman, PRISA and El País
Charpentier, Emmanuelle (FRA), Director, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology
Coeuré, Benoît (INT), Member of the Executive Board, European Central Bank
Costamagna, Claudio (ITA), Chairman, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti S.p.A.
Cote, David M. (USA), Chairman and CEO, Honeywell
Cryan, John (DEU), CEO, Deutsche Bank AG
Dassù, Marta (ITA), Senior Director, European Affairs, Aspen Institute
Dijksma, Sharon A.M. (NLD), Minister for the Environment
Döpfner, Mathias (DEU), CEO, Axel Springer SE
Dyvig, Christian (DNK), Chairman, Kompan
Ebeling, Thomas (DEU), CEO, ProSiebenSat.1
Elkann, John (ITA), Chairman and CEO, EXOR; Chairman, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
Enders, Thomas (DEU), CEO, Airbus Group
Engel, Richard (USA), Chief Foreign Correspondent, NBC News
Fabius, Laurent (FRA), President, Constitutional Council
Federspiel, Ulrik (DNK), Group Executive, Haldor Topsøe A/S
Ferguson, Jr., Roger W. (USA), President and CEO, TIAA
Ferguson, Niall (USA), Professor of History, Harvard University
Flint, Douglas J. (GBR), Group Chairman, HSBC Holdings plc
Garicano, Luis (ESP), Professor of Economics, LSE; Senior Advisor to Ciudadanos
Georgieva, Kristalina (INT), Vice President, European Commission
Gernelle, Etienne (FRA), Editorial Director, Le Point
Gomes da Silva, Carlos (PRT), Vice Chairman and CEO, Galp Energia
Goodman, Helen (GBR), MP, Labour Party
Goulard, Sylvie (INT), Member of the European Parliament
Graham, Lindsey (USA), Senator
Grillo, Ulrich (DEU), Chairman, Grillo-Werke AG; President, Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie
Gruber, Lilli (ITA), Editor-in-Chief and Anchor “Otto e mezzo”, La7 TV
Hadfield, Chris (CAN), Colonel, Astronaut
Halberstadt, Victor (NLD), Professor of Economics, Leiden University
Harding, Dido (GBR), CEO, TalkTalk Telecom Group plc
Hassabis, Demis (GBR), Co-Founder and CEO, DeepMind
Hobson, Mellody (USA), President, Ariel Investment, LLC
Hoffman, Reid (USA), Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, LinkedIn
Höttges, Timotheus (DEU), CEO, Deutsche Telekom AG
Jacobs, Kenneth M. (USA), Chairman and CEO, Lazard
Jäkel, Julia (DEU), CEO, Gruner + Jahr
Johnson, James A. (USA), Chairman, Johnson Capital Partners
Jonsson, Conni (SWE), Founder and Chairman, EQT
Jordan, Jr., Vernon E. (USA), Senior Managing Director, Lazard Frères & Co. LLC
Kaeser, Joe (DEU), President and CEO, Siemens AG
Karp, Alex (USA), CEO, Palantir Technologies
Kengeter, Carsten (DEU), CEO, Deutsche Börse AG
Kerr, John (GBR), Deputy Chairman, Scottish Power
Kherbache, Yasmine (BEL), MP, Flemish Parliament
Kissinger, Henry A. (USA), Chairman, Kissinger Associates, Inc.
Kleinfeld, Klaus (USA), Chairman and CEO, Alcoa
Kravis, Henry R. (USA), Co-Chairman and Co-CEO, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
Kravis, Marie-Josée (USA), Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute
Kudelski, André (CHE), Chairman and CEO, Kudelski Group
Lagarde, Christine (INT), Managing Director, International Monetary Fund
Levin, Richard (USA), CEO, Coursera
Leyen, Ursula von der (DEU), Minister of Defence
Leysen, Thomas (BEL), Chairman, KBC Group
Logothetis, George (GRC), Chairman and CEO, Libra Group
Maizière, Thomas de (DEU), Minister of the Interior, Federal Ministry of the Interior
Makan, Divesh (USA), CEO, ICONIQ Capital
Malcomson, Scott (USA), Author; President, Monere Ltd.
Markwalder, Christa (CHE), President of the National Council and the Federal Assembly
McArdle, Megan (USA), Columnist, Bloomberg View
Michel, Charles (BEL), Prime Minister
Micklethwait, John (USA), Editor-in-Chief, Bloomberg LP
Minton Beddoes, Zanny (GBR), Editor-in-Chief, The Economist
Mitsotakis, Kyriakos (GRC), President, New Democracy Party
Morneau, Bill (CAN), Minister of Finance
Mundie, Craig J. (USA), Principal, Mundie & Associates
Murray, Charles A. (USA), W.H. Brady Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
Netherlands, H.M. the King of the (NLD)
Noonan, Michael (IRL), Minister for Finance
Noonan, Peggy (USA), Author, Columnist, The Wall Street Journal
O'Leary, Michael (IRL), CEO, Ryanair Plc
Ollongren, Kajsa (NLD), Deputy Mayor of Amsterdam
Özel, Soli (TUR), Professor, Kadir Has University
Papalexopoulos, Dimitri (GRC), CEO, Titan Cement Co.
Petraeus, David H. (USA), Chairman, KKR Global Institute
Philippe, Edouard (FRA), Mayor of Le Havre
Pind, Søren (DNK), Minister of Justice
Ratti, Carlo (ITA), Director, MIT Senseable City Lab
Reisman, Heather M. (CAN), Chair and CEO, Indigo Books & Music Inc.
Rutte, Mark (NLD), Prime Minister
Sawers, John (GBR), Chairman and Partner, Macro Advisory Partners
Schäuble, Wolfgang (DEU), Minister of Finance
Schieder, Andreas (AUT), Chairman, Social Democratic Group
Schmidt, Eric E. (USA), Executive Chairman, Alphabet Inc.
Scholten, Rudolf (AUT), CEO, Oesterreichische Kontrollbank AG
Schwab, Klaus (INT), Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum
Sikorski, Radoslaw (POL), Senior Fellow, Harvard University; Former Minister of Foreign Affairs
Simsek, Mehmet (TUR), Deputy Prime Minister
Sinn, Hans-Werner (DEU), Professor for Economics and Public Finance, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
Skogen Lund, Kristin (NOR), Director General, The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise
Standing, Guy (GBR), Co-President, BIEN; Research Professor, University of London
Svanberg, Carl-Henric (SWE), Chairman, BP plc and AB Volvo
Thiel, Peter A. (USA), President, Thiel Capital
Tillich, Stanislaw (DEU), Minister-President of Saxony
Vetterli, Martin (CHE), President, NSF
Wahlroos, Björn (FIN), Chairman, Sampo Group, Nordea Bank, UPM-Kymmene Corporation
Wallenberg, Jacob (SWE), Chairman, Investor AB
Weder di Mauro, Beatrice (CHE), Professor of Economics, University of Mainz
Wolf, Martin H. (GBR), Chief Economics Commentator, Financial Times
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