Wife of Norwegian billionaire missing for 10 weeks – police fear kidnapping for ransom
LØRENSKOG (VG) Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen (68) disappeared from her home in Lørenskog in Norway the 31st of October last year.
- Morten S. HopperstadKrimjournalist
- Hanna Haug Røset
- Bjørnar Tommelstad
- Gordon Andersen
- Tore Kristiansen (foto)
- Kari Spets
- Erlend Ofte ArntsenJournalist
- Øystein Milli
- Ådne Husby Sandnes
- Sofie Fraser
- Marianne Vikås
- Natalie Remøe Hansen
- Rolf J. Widerøe
- Lone Lohne
- Jostein Matre
- Martha Holmes
- Jørgen Braastad (foto)
- Gøran Bohlin (foto)
Falkevik Hagen is married to one of Norway’s richest men, investor Tom Hagen. When she disappeared from her home in Lørenskog 10 weeks ago, a ransom note was left in the house, according to VG’s sources.
The alleged kidnappers demand nine million euros in the crypto currency Monero - equivalent to 85,9 million Norwegian kroner at the time the 68-year old went missing.
Police have been conducting a top secret investigation to locate Falkevik Hagen, not announcing the disappearance until the 9th of January. The reason for the secrecy, is that threats have been made to Falkevik Hagen’s life if police or media get involved, according to VG’s sources.
In the 10 weeks of the investigation, there has been no contact or sign of life from the woman, VG is told.
VG’s live studio: Everything about the disappearance
The ransom note left at the scene of the disappearance and found by husband Tom Hagen, was written in poor Norwegian, according to VG’s sources. The note also stated that if police or media got involved, Falkevik Hagen would be killed.
– There is no doubt that the family experiences the abduction as a cruel and inhumane act. For the family it has been, and is still is, demanding and exhausting to be in this situation, Svein Holden, lawyer for the Hagen family said at a press conference tuesday.
Multiple Norwegian news outlets have had knowledge of the disappearance for some period of time, but have been strongly advised by police not to publish anything for fear of the woman’s safety - until now.
In addition to multiple police districts, Kripos - the Norwegian special agency of police focusing on organized and serious crime, and Økokrim – the central unit for economic crimes, are involved.
Europol and Interpol are also involved. Police are looking at similar cases internationally.
Director of public prosecutions Tor-Aksel Busch was briefed of the disappearance in the early phases of the police investigation. He tells VG that he can not comment on the case.
– It would be wrong of me to make any comments based on the information that I have received. I have been briefed several times, most recently this week. It is important now that one voice speaks to the public about this, and that voice must come from the police, he says.
Police theory: Taken at home
The 68 year old housewife Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen married investor Tom hagen when she was 19 years old. Together they have three children, and several grandchildren.
She is believed to have disappeared from her home in Fjellhamar, Lørenskog, located on the outskirts of the Norwegian capital Oslo, on the 31st of October 2018.
Police believe the house is the scene of the alleged abduction. There were supposedly no traces of burglary, and there was no video surveillance in or outside the home, posing a challenge for police.
The main police theory is that that the 68- year old was attacked in the bathroom. There has been found evidence inside of the house, VG is told.
– This is a tragedy, says Marius Nerby, co-owner of the firm Elkraft AS with Anne-Elisabeth’s husband Tom Hagen.
Nerby does not want to comment on how long he has been aware of the disappearance.
– I do not want go into details about the matter. I am quite taken aback, he says.
The demanded ransom was to be payed in the cryptocurrency Monero, which is known to offer non-traceable and anonymous transactions. Practically, this means that it is impossible to determine with certainty who is sending how much money, or to whom.
These features have made Monero popular among cyber criminals.
VG is aware that there has been some form of net-based communication from those claiming to be the kidnappers, in the form of coded messages. The dialogue, however, has been limited. This form of net-based communication has recieved a lot of attention internally in the police force, VG understands.
Husband Tom Hagen currently holds 172nd place on the the financial magazine Kapital's list of Norway's 400 richest people. Hagen made his fortune purchasing and selling electricity, and in property development.
Hagens estimated net worth was 1.7 billion Norwegian kroner in 2018, equivalent to 170 million euros. According to VG’s sources, police believe that the motive for the alleged kidnapping is financial gain.
Fear of being watched
The demand that the police are not to be involved in the disappearance has created a unique and very challenging situation. VG is informed that this has led the police to drive cars with fake number plates to the couple's house. They had to apply for permission to use the fake number plates in advance.
The fear that the kidnappers should practice counter-reconnaissance has been imminent during the entire time, according to VG’s information.
Using methods such as driving with anonymous cars with fake number plates, crime technicians have been able to investigate the inside of the home thoroughly to secure important evidence. But according to VG’s sources, there has been critically few clues to follow for police.
VG’s has information that the Oslo Police section for special operations has been involved in reconnaissance: VG is aware that reconnaissance officers have been in the area around Falkevik Hagen’s home during the investigation
Kripos, the Norwegian police special agency focusing on organized and serious crime, has supposedly been heavily involved in searching for digital traces of the potential perpetrators.
Low profile in the media
Despite being involved in several large investment projects, Tom Hagen has held a low profile in the media. There does not appear to have been any threats to the couple before the disappearance.
Anne-Elisabet Falkevik Hagens family have turned their lives inside out, looking for any conflicts or enemies that could be linked to the disappearance, VG is told.
This autumn, Tom Hagen was involved in a court case in the Borgarting Court of Appeal, through the company Financial Funds, of which he is a co-owner.
The case concerned two employees in the brokerage firm Pareto and a consultant for the Russian steel company Severstal. They were charged with fraud, financial infidelity and market manipulation after 12 investors sold their shares in the mining company Crew Gold Corporation via Pareto to Severstal for a price guarantee. Later, Pareto bought shares on behalf of an apparently unknown buyer. Økokrim, Norway's central unit for economic crimes, believe this buyer was Russian Severstal, and that the investors had thus been tricked.
Hagen and his business partner Fredrik Daylemani Sneve had missed out on 37 million Norwegian kroner, equivalent to 3,8 million euros, according to the charge.
Økokrim has been involved in the investigation of Falkevik Hagens disappearance, but according to VG’s sources no links to the litigation have been found.
VG has been aware of the disappearance for a period of time, but has chosen to follow the police’s call not to publish anything.
– When VG was made aware of the investigation, it was obvious that the story was of great public interest. It was equally obvious that media coverage could put people in danger. The situation was unclear. In this phase, we believed the concern for life and safety outweighed the need for public information, says VG’s chief editor Gard Steiro.