Norwegian tycoon charged over wife’s disappearance in 2018

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Businessman held on suspicion of murder in case first treated by police as kidnapping

One of Norways richest men has been arrested and charged with suspected murder or complicity in the murder of his wife in a case that has made headlines in the low-crime Scandinavian country.

Tom Hagen, a hitherto low-profile property and energy tycoon aged 70, was arrested on his way to work, Norwegian media reported.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Norwegian police said they had reasonable reason to suspect Tom Hagen of the murder or complicity in the murder of Anne-Elisabeth Hagen.

Tom Hagen.

Investigators originally thought Anne-Elisabeth Hagen, who was 68 when she was reported missing on 31 October 2018, had been abducted by a criminal gang seeking ransom.

But on Tuesday, police said they believed that no abduction had taken place and there had never been a counter party seeking a ransom. In other words, the police believe that the case is characterised by a clear, planned deception, the statement said.

It is important to emphasise that even though we have a charge, the case is still under investigation and there are several unanswered questions that the police will continue to work on. Police say it was important to clarify Tom Hagens role, find Anne-Elisabeth Hagen and work out if other people were involved.

Hagens lawyer Svein Holden told Norwegian media that his client had nothing to do with Anne-Elisabeths disappearance. The tycoon was expected to be questioned by police later on Tuesday.

He will be held in pre-trial custody for four weeks and prosecutors are arguing he should not be bailed.

Police have declined to elaborate on a motive because of the ongoing investigation, and have not ruled out further arrests.

Anne-Elisabeth Hagen had been married to Tom Hagen for 49 years when she disappeared from the couples home in Lrenskog, 20km (12 miles) east of Oslo, in October 2018. Police found signs of a struggle that suggested she had been taken away by force.

The case did not come to public attention until January 2019, when police announced her suspected kidnapping. At the time police reported they had received a ransom demand and serious threats against her. The ransom was a poorly written demand for 9m (7.8m), to be paid in cryptocurrency, Norwegian media reported at the time.

By June 2019, when no trace of Hagen had been found, while the presumed kidnappers were unable to prove they were holding her, the main police hypothesis switched to murder disguised as kidnapping. According to Norways public broadcaster NRK, police began investigating Tom Hagen in secret last summer.

Police officers search Tom Hagens residence near Oslo after the businessmans arrest. Photograph: Heiko Junge/NTB Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images

During the 18-month investigation, police have enlisted the help of the FBI in the US and Swedish police dogs, according to Norwegian media, as well examined 6,000 hours of video footage.

Tom Hagen is Norways 164th richest man, according to the magazine Kapital, with an estimated fortune of 1.9bn kroner (147m). He made his money by founding electricity supplier Elkraft in 1991 and currently holds a 70% stake in the company, which operates throughout Scandinavia.

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