Wednesday 18 September 2019

Donohoe and O'Leary set for Bilderberg summit

Plush: Swiss tourist resort Montreux will host the annual Bilderberg conference
Plush: Swiss tourist resort Montreux will host the annual Bilderberg conference

Hannah Borno

The annual Bilderberg conference of wealthy business leaders and powerful political heavyweights begins tomorrow in the Swiss tourist resort of Montreux.

The meeting runs from Thursday to Sunday, with Ryanair's Michael O'Leary sitting on its organising steering committee for the fourth year.

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As the Irish representative on the steering committee, Mr O'Leary is hosting Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, who is attending the invite-only conference for the second time; and banker Richard Gnodde, the CEO of Goldman Sachs International.

Though of South African origin, and based in London, Mr Gnodde is referred to in the Bilderberg 2019 participant list as an Irish delegate, as he holds an Irish passport.

Attending this year's annual conference is the usual mix of senior politicians, financiers and business people. This year's event will feature two prime ministers, two finance ministers, the minister of defence for Germany, the secretary general of Nato, and the King of the Netherlands.

Jared Kushner and two members of Donald Trump's National Security Council are also on the list, as are CEOs and chairs from Thales, Microsoft, Total, BP, Santander, Deutsche Bank and AXA.

Attendees: Ryanair founder Michael O’Leary (pictured) and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe will attend the event. Photo: Bloomberg
Attendees: Ryanair founder Michael O’Leary (pictured) and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe will attend the event. Photo: Bloomberg

The head of British intelligence and security organisation GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, and the head of the Bank of England, Mark Carney will also be at the conference in Montreux.

The steering committee is run by Henri de Castries, the vice-chairman of Nestlé and a director of HSBC.

Ireland traditionally holds a single seat on the 33-strong steering committee, which was held for many years by the late Peter Sutherland, who first introduced Mr O'Leary to the group in 2015.

The Ryanair CEO replaced Mr Sutherland on the steering committee in 2016.

Alongside Michael O'Leary on the steering committee is Thomas Leysen, chairman of Mediahuis, the proposed buyer of Independent News and Media (INM), which publishes the Irish Independent.

On the agenda for the 2019 summit is: 'What's Next for Europe?'. Brexit is also up for discussion, as is 'The Future of Capitalism', 'Russia', 'China', 'The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence', 'The Weaponisation of Social Media', 'The Importance of Space' and 'Cyber Threats'.

Transparency campaigners have long complained about the Bilderberg Conference, which does not publish details of proceedings at its meetings, in particular because politicians such as Mr Donohoe will meet in private with corporate CEOs and industry lobbyists.

Irish Independent

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