The secretive Bilderberg Group gathers for its annual meeting next week, which this year takes place in Turin, Italy.
A collective of elite North American and European politicians, business leaders, financiers and academics, the group has attracted a good deal of suspicion over the last half-century, with conspiracy theorists confidently asserting that its members are plotting the New World Order and are hell-bent on global domination.
Protesters who believe the Bilderbergers represent a “shadow world government” regularly picket their yearly meet-ups, creating a need for high security at all times, but attendees insist the group is simply a debating society taking place outside the glare of the political spotlight.
The group publishes its guest list the day before its annual get together – between 120 and 150 are invited by its steering committee – along with a list of the subjects they intend to discuss as a gesture towards transparency. This typically consists of broad issues like macroeconomic concerns, the threat of terrorism and cyber-security.
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No minutes are taken, however, and the outcome of their discussions are not made public, hence the assumption that they are a sinister cabal of the rich and powerful with something to hide.
The Bilderberg Group take their name from the Hotel de Bilderberg in Oosterbeek, the Netherlands, where its members first convened on 29 May 1954 at the invitation of Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld.
Its founders – including exiled Polish politician Jozef Retinger, ex-Belgian prime minister Paul van Zeeland and Paul Rijkens, former head of consumer goods giant Unilever…