Norwegian police arrest billionaire over wife’s disappearance

Police investigate the home of Tom Hagen after his wife’s disappearance in Lorenskog near Oslo. (AP pic)

OSLO: Norwegian police said Tuesday they had arrested a wealthy businessman over the disappearance of his wife 18 months ago, the latest twist in a case that has kept the Nordic countries on tenterhooks.

Tom Hagen, 70, was arrested as he was leaving his home for work on Tuesday, on suspicion of “murder or accessory to murder”, commissioner Ida Melbo Oystese told a press conference.

His wife Anne-Elisabeth Hagen disappeared without a trace from their home in Lorenskog, east of Oslo, on Oct 31, 2018.

A poorly written ransom note, containing threats and a demand for €9 million in cryptocurrency, was found at the scene.

Sporadic contacts with the alleged kidnappers on digital platforms initially supported the theory that she had been the victim of a rogue abduction.

However, by June 2019, police were re-evaluating their leads and started examining whether it was a murder that had been disguised as a kidnapping.

Tom Hagen is the 164th richest man in Norway with an estimated net worth of 1.9 billion Norwegian kroner in 2019, according to business magazine Kapital.

Police did not present any concrete evidence to support their suspicions or speculate on a potential motive, but said the case “had traces of a clear, premeditated misdirection”.

Question marks still remain as to what police believe Tom Hagen’s exact role in the disappearance to be, whether he had accomplices, and the whereabouts of Anne-Elisabeth Hagen, now presumed dead.

Police said they had still not interrogated the suspect.