A year ago, Finance Minister Jutta Urpilainen said that ministers who participate in the closed-door meetings of the Bilderberg Conference do so as private individuals and that ministries would not pay their way. This year, Urpilainen herself is attending the high-level conclave in the US – and taxpayers are picking up the tab.
For decades, ardent conspiracy theorists have trained their cross hairs on the secretive meetings convened by the Bilderberg Group. Every year high ranking political and business leaders assemble for the clandestine invitation-only informal meetings.
Last year, opposition Finns Party MP Vesa-Matti Saarakkala tabled a written question about the event in Parliament, inquiring whether attendees from the Parliament should share the nature of the discussions with the other members of the chamber.
At the time Finance Minister Jutta Urpilainen furnished a written response explaining that, “Participants attend the Bilderberg Group meetings as private individuals. The Finance Ministry cannot limit private participation in the Bilderberg conference or in the meetings of any similar group,” she wrote.
PM Katainen: Ministry pays the bill
This year, the Finance Minister has been invited to attend the prestigious closed-door conference in Chantilly, Virginia. Himself a three-term Finance Minister, Prime Minister Katainen confirmed Friday that taxpayers pick up the tab for the exclusive excursions.
“The Ministry always pays for travel expenses, and if memory serves me right, the Bilderberg Foundation covers accommodation costs,” Katainen added.
But why would the Ministry pay for the trip, if participation is in a private capacity?
“In reality people are invited because of their position as Minister. They are extremely rewarding seminars and discussions, and they are worth attending if the opportunity arises,” the PM explained.
Opposition MP Saarakkala: Caught red-handed
According to Yle, checks with the Finance Ministry confirmed that it had picked up the tab for the Minister’s trip.
Opposition MP Saarakkala Ministers noted that ministers are obliged to provide truthful information in their parliamentary work, such as when responding to written questions.
“Someone's been caught lying,” Saarakkala said.
He declared that it would be better not to attend the high flying summits if the discussions could not be shared with the Parliament.
Reached at the off-the-record conference on Saturday, Urpilainen told Yle that her earlier statement on the issue had been poorly formulated.
She admitted that ministers' participation in Bilderberg conferences cannot be described as private trips.
"No decisions are made here, so the stories that circulate about these meetings are quite mythical," she added.