Club of rich, powerful meet in secret near London

Club of rich, powerful meet in secret near London

It's a busy weekend at the luxury Grove Hotel, favoured haunt of British soccer players and their glitz-loving spouses.

More than 100 of the world's most powerful people are at the former manor house near London for a secretive annual gathering that has attained legendary status in the eyes of anti-capitalist protesters and conspiracy theorists.

The guest list for the Bilderberg meeting includes Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde and former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is due to drop by today.

The Bilderberg Group was set up in 1954 to support military and economic co-operation between Europe and North America during the Cold War.

Named for the site of its first meeting the Bilderberg Hotel in Oosterbeek, Holland the forum for prominent politicians, thinkers and business leaders has been held annually at a series of secluded venues in Europe and North America.

What happens at Bilderberg, stays at Bilderberg. There is no media access and the public is kept away by a large security operation. The group says that "there is no detailed agenda, no resolutions are proposed, no votes are taken, and no policy statements are issued."

But in a move toward slightly more openness, the group now has a website, which lists attendees and key topics for discussion, including the economy, US foreign policy, "cyber warfare and the proliferation of asymmetric threats" and "major trends in medical research."

Invitees include British Treasury chief George Osborne, Goldman Sachs chairman Peter Sutherland and Thomas Enders, CEO of aerospace company EADS.

Publication of these details has done little to ease the concerns of protesters, who sense a shadowy global elite at work in the secretive meeting. 

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