Category Archives: 2018

Bilderberg 2018: Turin, June 7-10

The influential Bilderberg policy summit is this year being held in Turin, from June 7th to 10th.

Taking part in this year’s conference are a large number of senior politicians and public figures, including the Secretary General of NATO and the Prime Ministers of Holland, Belgium, Serbia and Estonia.

Also attending are the King of Holland, the Deputy Prime Ministers of Spain and Turkey, the German Defence Minister, and the Secretary of State of the Vatican.

Top of the conference agenda for these politicians is “Populism in Europe”, the rise of which is obviously troubling for the intensely pro-EU Bilderberg group. They will also be discussing such geopolitical issues as “Russia”, “Saudi Arabia and Iran”, and “US world leadership”.

With the world on the edge of war, the US is sending the Director of Net Assessment at the US Defence Dept., James H. Baker, whose job is to weigh up the military capabilities of America and its ‘competition’.

From the world of finance, the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, is heading to Turin, along with his Dutch counterpart, Klaas Knot. They’ll be discussing “Free Trade” with the President of the World Economic Foundation, Børge Brende, and the Senior Deputy Governor of the Bank of Italy.

The former UK Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, is invited, along with the former UK Chancellor George Osborne, in his capacity as Editor of the Evening Standard. Osborne recently took a senior advisory role at Exor, the holding company for the Agnelli billions.

The Chairman of Exor, John Elkann, is on Bilderberg’s steering committee, which is run by the Vice-Chairman of Nestlé, Henri de Castries. It is big year for Elkann, as he is effectively hosting this year’s conference in Turin.

Corporate leaders invited to Turin include the CEOs of Shell, Airbus, Vodafone and Total, billionaire financiers such as Henry Kravis of KKR, and the CEO of ICONIQ Capital — the silicon valley investment fund linked to Mark Zuckerberg.

High tech is high on the agenda, with “Artificial intelligence” and “Quantum computing” being discussed by leaders from the sector, such as Demis Hassabis the head of Google’s DeepMind project, and AI expert Tim Hwang.


Bilderberg and the Agnellis

The official Bilderberg website has a list of current and former members of the Steering Committee.  However, there is no mention in the list of the flamboyant billionaire industralist Giovanni ‘Gianni’ Agnelli (1921-2003). The absence of L’Avvocato is absolutely extraordinary, given the central role that he and FIAT have played within the history of Bilderberg.

The links between FIAT and Bilderberg date back to the Group’s origins in the early 1950s. Vittorio Valletta, who was president of FIAT for two decades from 1946 until 1966 was part of the Italian delegation that participated in the first transatlantic meeting, in 1954. Valletta attended again in 1955, and helped organize, on behalf of FIAT, the sixth Bilderberg Conference, held at the Hotel Palazzo della Fonte, in Fiuggi, in 1957, which he did not attend for family reasons.

Enter Gianni

The 1957 meeting in Italy is the first of the thirty-six Bilderberg Conferences in which Giovanni ‘Gianni’ Agnelli takes part: it is the debut on the international scene of the dashing aesthete with a magnetic charm and a devastating smile. Quickly bored, Gianni lives at a thousand miles per hour, fascinated by art, women, architecture, cars, football and politics —  especially international relations.

His assiduous interest in the Bilderberg Group’s activities ensures that Gianni Agnelli is soon identified as the ideal candidate to take one of the two Italian chairs in the Steering Committee. Shortly after the 1958 conference, Gianni was invited to a meeting of the ‘Enlarged Steering Committee’ — the first time that Agnelli had access to the backstage of Bilderberg.

But it is not until the early years of the next decade that Giovanni Agnelli finds himself fully involved in the activities of the International Steering Committee. On 20 November 1962, he is invited him to a meeting of the Advisory Committee of the Group aimed at defining the agenda of the Bilderberg Conference of 1963 in Cannes. The Cannes conference is the first at which Agnelli took part as a full member of the Steering Committee.

Before long, Gianni became a business partner and friend of one of the most influential people in the history of Bilderberg, the American banker David Rockefeller. The two shared many ideas besides the love of sailing and the same conception of world order, and were instrumental in making Bilderberg more business oriented. He also became enamoured of young strategist and intellectual, a protégé of the Rockeller brothers — Henry Kissinger. Over time, they formed a friendship that became an anchor of stability in their respective lives. As Henry Kissinger wrote, in a foreword to a book on his friend:

“During the last two decades of his life, no one was closer to me than Gianni Agnelli. We spoke on the telephone three or four times a week and whenever something interesting happened in either of our lives. We spent time together when either of us traveled to the other’s country, which was every month or so.”

In 1981, Gianni Agnelli was co-opted in the Advisory Board (a sort of Bilderberg Hall of Fame), reflecting his commitment to the Group.

Bilderberg and FIAT

In an article La Repubblica in 2013, Giuliano Balestreri observed that most of the Italians who have been co-opted in the Steering Committee from 1960 to today have at one point or another seen their personal interests allied with those of FIAT:

  • Paolo Zannoni had most of his career in FIAT, holding important positions including: president of FIAT Washington Inc.; representative of FIAT in the Soviet Union; and senior vice-president for the development of international affairs of the FIAT group.
  • Career diplomat, Gian Gaspare Cittadini Cesi became CEO of FIAT France after going to rest.
  • Renato Ruggiero was responsible for the international relations of the FIAT group between 1991 and 1995, after having held the position of Minister of Foreign Trade and before becoming Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
  • Mario Monti was co-opted on the Board of Directors of FIAT Auto SpA in 1988, at the age of 45.
  • Franco Bernabè debuts his career in the private sector in FIAT, where he joined in 1978 as chief economist at the planning office. He then became director of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (FCA).
  • Tommaso Padoa Schioppa was co-opted on the board of directors of FIAT Industrial on December 15, 2010. Three days later he died as a result of cardiac arrest.

After Gianni, John

Gianni’s younger brother, Umberto, was invited to his first Bilderberg Conference in 1983, and ended up joining Gianni on the Group’s Steering Committee. Umberto died in 2004, a year after Gianni, forcing the then 28-year-old grandson of Gianni, John Elkann, to oversee the family’s investment in FIAT. Elkann was invited to attend his first Bilderberg Conference in 2005, in his capacity as Vice President of the FIAT Group. To quote a Reuters article from 2012:

When he inherited Fiat, Elkann got much more than a company. Just as General Motors and Ford have shaped America, Fiat’s history is tightly entwined with Italy’s transformation from a poor agricultural nation to a top industrial power.

John Elkann was invited to joined the Steering Committee in 2015, the same year as the journalist Lilli Gruber. And it is Elkann who is acting as the principal host of the 2018 Bilderberg conference in Turin, the longtime home of Fiat and the Agnellis.


Henri de Castries on Macron

Henri de Castries, who is Vice-Chairman of Nestlé, a director of HSBC, and Chairman of Bilderberg’s Steering Committee, has spoken about Emmanual Macron’s first year in office.

In a report produced by the influential French think-tank the Institut Montaigne, of which he is the President, Henri de Castries declares that Macron has had “a strong start”, and that with Macron at its helm, “France is back on the international arena”.

“It’s good to have for the first time in years, a French president able to articulate a very deep and very structured European vision.”

In a further statement from the report, the Institut Montaigne says:

“The President’s pro-European agenda and his firmness on the aforementioned subjects, which both contrast strongly with the political instability prevailing elsewhere in Europe, have been unambiguous.”

Contributors to this report include the lawyer Nicolas Baverez, who is a director of the Institut Montaigne and a regular at Bilderberg (until recently he was on the group’s steering committee), and the CEO of the institute, Laurent Bigorgne, who attended the Bilderberg conference in 2015.

The relationship between Macron’s party En Marche, the Institut Montaigne and Bilderberg has always been intimate. At the very beginning of Macron’s rise to power,  En Marche was using Laurent Bigorgne’s private house as a contact address and his partner (Véronique Bolhuis) as a contact.

And Emmanuel Macron himself, a few years before becoming President, attended the 2014 Bilderberg conference in Copenhagen, back when he was Deputy Secretary General of the Presidency. Also attending that year were Nicolas Baverez and Monsieur de Castries.

It is also worth noting that among the Institut Montaigne’s impressive roster of Special Advisors, you can a number of Bilderberg conference alumni, including: Jean-Dominique Senard (2012, & ’13); Patrick Calvar (2015) and Dominique Moïsi (1999 & 2002).

Senard, who is the Vice-President and CEO of Michelin, also sits on the board of directors of the Institut Montaigne. Here is Senard, in January 2018, welcoming his young President to the Michelin factory:

Historical note: the Institut Montaigne was founded in 2000 by Claude Bébéar, the head of insurance and finance giant AXA. This was the year that Henri de Castries, Bébéar’s protégé at AXA, took over the management of the company.

In 2015, in a similar passing of the baton, Henri de Castries took over from his mentor Bébéar as president the Institut Montaigne.

Bébéar was a supporter of Macron in the French presidential election. He said that it was the first time ever that he’d revealed his political leanings, and praised Macron for his pro-European vision.

One last thing: Claude Bébéar is also a Bilderberg alumnus. He attended the 1995 conference in Zurich. The ties between Bilderberg, AXA, the Institut Montaigne and Macron run deep.


Bilderberg & Brookings

One of the oldest and most influential think tanks is the Washington-based Brookings Institution, a “public policy organization” which is committed, in its own words, to finding “practical solutions to the most vexing policy challenges facing society”. And over the decades, the Brookings Institution and its fellow elite policy group, Bilderberg, have become closely intertwined.

The 2017 Bilderberg conference in Chantilly was attended by Leon Wieseltier, a senior fellow at Brookings, and two members of the Brookings Institution’s current board of trustees: the head of Deutsche Bank, Paul Achleitner, and the head of Lazard, Kenneth M. Jacobs. It is the job of the the trustees to ensure the “scholarly independence” of Brookings.

Besides being Brookings trustees and running banks, Jacobs and Achleitner are also members of the inner circle of Bilderberg: the group’s steering committee.

Over the years, a considerable number of Bilderberg steering committee members have also been trustees of Brookings, including Klaus Kleinfeld, James Wolfensohn, Thomas Donilon, Vernon Jordan, Jessica T. Mathews and James A. Johnson (who was chairman of the Brookings board of trustees).

James A. Johnson, who is a director of Goldman Sachs, is also on the advisory board of the Hamilton Project: an economic policy unit at Brookings. Other advisors to the Hamilton Project include Bilderberg steering committee member Eric Schmidt (the former Executive Chairman of Google) and longtime Bilderberg attendees Lawrence Summers, Robert Rubin and Timothy Geithner.

Another policy unit within Brookings is the John L. Thornton China Center, which is run by two-time Bilderberg attendee Cheng Li (2012 & 2014). The Center is named after the former Goldman Sachs CEO John L. Thornton, who was named chairman of the board of trustees at Brookings in 2003 and attended Bilderberg 9 times from 1999 to 2014.

The International Advisory Council of Brookings includes the Swedish billionaire Marcus Wallenberg, who sits on Bilderberg’s steering committee, and also Royal Dutch Shell, which has been one of the most important corporations at Bilderberg since its founding.

In the early 1980s, the then president of Brookings, Bruce K. MacLaury, was a regular attendee at Bilderberg, and also sat on the group’s steering committee. And the current president of Brookings, John R. Allen, attended the Bilderberg conference in 2015, back when he was a special presidential envoy for the State Department.

The Bilderberg conference and Brookings are both best understood as part of a much wider matrix of elite political and economic influence, which includes governmental advisory groups, think tanks, policy institutes and corporate lobby groups. These would include such groups as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Trilateral Commission, the Ford Foundation, the Aspen Institute, the Ditchley Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations and the European Round Table of Industrialists.