The activities of the Bilderberg Group are largely shrouded in secrecy.

Lists of guests and locations are not disclosed until after its annual meetings and no agendas or minutes of its conferences – which include democratically-elected government ministers from across the globe – have ever been published.

The group claims its secrecy “has no purpose other than to allow participants to speak their minds openly and freely”.

Yet is has led to criticism the group acts an informal global power network that circumvents open democratic government.

As such its annual meetings have attracted a growing number of protestors.

What is not in dispute, however, is that its meetings attract some of the most influential people in the world.

In recent years, current and former government ministers from Britain such as Chancellor George Osborne, Ken Clarke and Peter Mandelson have attended.

At the meetings they will have mixed with the likes of Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of Canada and soon-to-be governor of the Bank of England, CEOs of companies such as Google, Goldman Sachs and Unilever as well as key academics and journalists.

The Bilderberg Group takes its name from the hotel in Holland where its inaugural meeting was held in 1954. Its website said it was founded “out of the concern expressed by leading citizens on both sides of the Atlantic that Western Europe and North America were not working together as closely as they should on common problems of critical importance.

“It was felt that regular, off-the-record discussions would help create a better understanding of the complex forces and major trends affecting Western nations in the difficult post-war period”.

The group describes its meetings as a “cross-section of leading citizens that are assembled for nearly three days of informal and off-the-record discussion about topics of current concern especially in the fields of foreign affairs and the international economy.”

The previous three Bilderberg meetings have been hosted in Sitges in Spain, St. Moritz in Switzerland and Chantilly, Virginia, in the USA.

The group is organised by an anonymous “Steering Committee” and it says the hospitality costs of the annual meeting are the responsibility of the Steering Committee members of the host country.