the 2013 Bilderberg Conference
The annual conference of the Bilderberg Group is an international policy summit: a high-level lobbying event at which the banking, finance and industrial elite spend 3 days lobbying senior politicians from Europe, the USA and Canada – behind closed doors – with zero press oversight.
Participants at the conference include government ministers, politicians and policymakers: and a large number of high ranking bank bosses, corporate CEOs, venture capitalists and media proprietors.
A first look at the participant list
The organisers of the Bilderberg conference, perhaps conscious of the lobbying scandal that has hit Westminster in recent days, have taken the unique step of releasing the participant list and and outline agenda early. It’s a step towards greater transparency, certainly, although the agenda is a little vague, with bullet points like “Politics of the European Union” and “Current Affairs”.
The finance lobby and Goldman Sachs
A few things are striking about the participant list. The first is that it’s shaping up to be a very finance-heavy summit, with Christine Lagarde of the IMF attending, along with eight European finance ministers, including our very own George Osborne (this will be his sixth Bilderberg conference).
Alongside them, a stellar cast of banking, high finance and private equity executives. HSBC are powerfully represented, by their Group Chairman, Deputy-Chairman and Group Chief Executive. Barclays are sending their Vice Chairman, as are Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs is also represented by a member of the Board of Directors (James A. Johnson) and the Chairman of Goldman Sachs International (Peter Sutherland).
It is interesting to note that Goldman Sachs have recently been revealed as one of the two primary donors to the official Bilderberg Association charity, which funds the conference. The other main donor is BP, whose Group Chief Executive, Bob Dudley, will also be there in Watford enjoying the charity’s hospitality.
And of course, there’s also a healthy number of chief executives and chairmen from giant, multi-billion dollar private equity companies and investment holdings (e.g. KKR, Evercore, Brookfield). They’ll presumably be keen to see what investment opportunities might arise from three days of private discussions on subjects such as “US foreign policy”, “Africa’s challenges” and “Developments in the Middle East”.
The arms lobby and KKR
Another striking aspect is that the list looks worryingly warlike. The list includes ex-CIA boss, General Petraeus, who has recently gone to work for the “KKR Global Institute“. This is a global expansion initiative of the private equity giant KKR, which describes itself as “a global firm investing in new and emerging markets that have new risks and opportunities.” Head of KKR is Henry Kravis, who sits on the Bilderberg steering committee.
With Petraeus in Watford will be his old assistant at U.S. Central Command, Ambassador Michael Gfoeller, who nowadays works for ex Homeland Security boss, Michael Chertoff. Also at the Grove Hotel will be Bilderberg steering committee member Richard ‘Prince of Darkness’ Perle, who sits on the Advisory Board of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. He’s bringing a Senior Fellow from the Foundation, Emanuele Ottolenghi.
Hoping to pick up some contracts between conference sessions, there’ll be the International Business Development Director of BAE Systems, the CEO of EADS (Thomas Enders, also on the Bilderberg steering committee), the CEO of Palantir Technologies (they provide tech to the US Defense Department) and the Chief Geopolitical Analyst of Stratfor, everyone’s favourite “global intelligence” operators. They’ll be discussing “megatrends” (the Bilderberg Group’s own choice of word) with three foreign ministers, and the Commander of Eurocorps, the EU’s very own army.
They’ll be working tirelessly away, in private, with all the biggest banks and investment holding companies in the world, to help make the world a better and safer place – under the watchful eye of Jessica T. Mathews, the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mathews is also on the prestigious Advisory Council of Transparency International, so we’ll be looking to her over the next few days for a statement on how these international peace negotiations are getting on.
Background: the 2012 conference
At the 2012 conference in Chantilly, there were three European Commissioners (Neelie Kroes, Joaquín Almunia and Karel de Gucht) and the following elected public servants (the list shows the office held at the time):
- John Kerry (US: Senator for Massachusetts)
Kenneth Clarke (Britain: Member of Parliament, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of Justice)
Alison Redford (Canada: Premier of Alberta)
Mark Rutte (Holland: Prime Minister)
Jürgen Trittin (Germany: Parliamentary Leader, Alliance 90/The Greens)
Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría (Spain: Vice President and Minister for the Presidency)
Jutta Urpilainen (Finland: Minister of Finance)
Christophe Béchu (France: Senator, and Chairman, General Council of Maine-et-Loire)
Nick Boles (Britain: Member of Parliament)
Michael Noonan (Ireland: Minister for Finance)
Enrico Letta (Italy: Deputy Leader, Democratic Party)
Alexander Pechtold (Holland: Parliamentary Leader, Democrats ’66)
Jacek Rostowski (Poland: Minister of Finance)
Jorge Moreira da Silva (Portugal: First Vice-President, Partido Social Democrata)
Ali Babacan (Turkey: Deputy Prime Minister for Economic and Financial Affairs)
Mitchell Daniels, Jr. (US: Governor of Indiana)
The Bilderberg conference is an intense 3 day policy summit – where politicians, policy-makers and corporate CEOs meet behind closed doors – and yet only a very sketchy list of discussion topics is released to the press and public. No public statements are made by the politicians who attend. This is utterly inadequate, radically undemocratic, and fails completely to fit in with Britain’s new era of transparency.