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Charity Commission assesses complaint about Bilderberg Association

Minister without porfolio Ken Clarke. Copyright PVladi
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Charity Commission assesses complaint about Bilderberg Association

Governance | Vibeka Mair | 1 Jul 2013

The Charity Commission has received a complaint about the charitable status of the Bilderberg Association, a charity which helps funds the Bilderberg meetings, an annual gathering of the world’s political and finance elite to have “off-the record” discussions on global trends.

The complaint, seen by civilsociety.co.uk, states that that the Bilderberg Association’s charitable objectives would be “highly unlikely” to qualify for charitable status.

The Bilderberg Association says its charitable objectives are to promote the study of, and public education in international affairs, economics and the social sciences with reference in particular to political, economic and social problems affecting the democratic countries of North America and Western Europe and the effects of industrialisation upon the social structures and environments of such countries.

But the complainant to the Charity Commission argues that as Bilderberg meetings are entirely secret they have no role at all in public education. “Meetings are not in fact disseminated, and no reports are published. Bilderberg meetings are in fact, by their own admission, characterised by ultimate secrecy.

"Therefore, it would appear that the objectives and activities of the Bilderberg Association are identifiably false and misleading.”

The Bilderberg meetings, which have been held since 1954, are annual, private conferencse attended by a range of powerful leaders including high-ranking politicians, bank bosses, CEOs and royals.

Organisers say the private nature of the conferences allow people to "listen, reflect and gather insights" without being bound by "pre-agreed positions". But critics argue that the profile of the people attending means they should be more accountable.

This year’s Bilderberg meeting, held in the UK, included Prime Minister David Cameron, minister without portfolio Kenneth Clarke, Google boss Eric Schmidt and former Barclays chairman Marcus Agius.

Agius and Clarke are also two of the three trustees of the Bilderberg Association, along with Lord Kerr of Kinlochard.

According to its latest annual accounts on the Charity Commission website, the Association funds the Bilderberg conference when it is held in the UK and provides travel costs for some UK participants to attend meetings.

It received donations of £100,000 for the year ending March 2012, half of which was given by the Association's "management committee members" - unnamed in the accounts - and it contributed £26,004 towards the Bilderberg meetings.

Its accounts state that an international steering committee organises conferences and meetings in the UK and elsewhere and disseminates the results thereof by preparing and publishing reports of such conferences and meetings by other means.

Civilsociety.co.uk was unable to find evidence of published reports and the Bilderberg Association did not respond to enquiries in time.

A Charity Commission spokeswoman said: “‘ We recently received a complaint regarding the charitable status of the Bilderberg Association. We are currently assessing whether there is any regulatory role for us to play.”

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