Photo: Police handout photo of Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen
Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen disappeared from the house on Halloween in 2018, in what was suspected to be a kidnap for ransom, after Hagen reported finding a ransom note demanding €9m in the Monero cryptocurrency.
Ida Melbo Øystese, chief of the Norway's Eastern Police District, said at a press conference on Tuesday morning that Hagen had now been charged “with murder or complicity in the murder” of his wife.
“The charge means that the case is now moving into a new phase. In this phase, it is important for me to emphasise that even though Tom Hagen has now been charged, the case is still under investigation and there are several unanswered questions,” she said.
In a press release, police explained that Hagen had become the lead suspect as it became clear that the kidnap had been faked.
“As other hypotheses have gradually been weakened during the investigation, the basis of suspicion against Tom Hagen has, in the police's opinion, been gradually strengthened,” the release read.
“We believe that no abduction has taken place, and that there has therefore never been a real negotiating counterpart. In other words, the police believe that the case is characterised by a clear, planned deception.”
Hagen was ranked last year as Norway's 164th richest man with a fortune of 1.9bn kroner ($180m). He will be detained in pre-trial custody initially for four weeks.
According to Norway's VG newspaper, police seized the 70-year-old as he was leaving his house in Lørenskog at 8.30am to go to work at his offices in the nearby Futurum business park.
Police cars stopped traffic in both directions, and waved down Hagen's vehicle. After he had been arrested, he left in a police car, leaving his own abandoned on the road until it was removed later.
Police lawyer Åse Eriksson said at the press conference that the investigation focusing on Hagen still had a long way to go.
“We are still very early in the new phase of the investigation aimed at Tom Hagen, and it is especially important for the police to uncover Tom Hagen's role in the case and to find Anne-Elisabeth Hagen,” she said, according to Norwegian state broadcaster NRK.
She said police still wanted to clarify if others had been involved in her disappearance or murder.
According to VG's crime commentator Øystein Milli it is likely that Hagen had an accomplice who played the role of the kidnappers sending encrypted and coded messages during ransom negotiations.
“I think it seems unlikely that he has played the opposing party while he has been voluntarily monitored and the police have followed his communication channel,” he said. “He would have had to be able to send encrypted messages at the same time, which I find it hard to believe.”
Svein Holden, the lawyer who prosecuted Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, has been appointed to defend Hagen.
Police cordoned off the Hagens' house in Lørenskog on the day of Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen's disappearance. Photo: Vidar Ruud/NTB Scanpix/AFP
Last summer, investigators announced that they now believed that Hagen had been murdered, with the perpetrator or perpetrators manufacturing evidence to make her disappearance seem economically motivated.
The ransom note found at the time of her disappearance, they said, may have been intended to throw investigators off track.
In March, Hagen sent information to the police to back up his theory that the perpetrators were based locally and intended to harm him personally as well as to receive a ransom.
Here is Tom Hagen in Lillehammer back in 2011.
Photo: Torbjorn Olsen/NTB SCANPIX/AFP