One of Norway’s richest men has denied murdering his wife and faking her kidnapping after he was arrested on Tuesday. Property tycoon Tom Hagen, 70, ‘forcefully maintains that he had nothing to do with’ the disappearance of his wife Anne-Elisabeth Hagen in 2018, his lawyer said. A pre-nuptial agreement made in 1987 shows that Anne-Elisabeth
One of Norway’s richest men has denied murdering his wife and faking her kidnapping after he was arrested on Tuesday.
Property tycoon Tom Hagen, 70, ‘forcefully maintains that he had nothing to do with’ the disappearance of his wife Anne-Elisabeth Hagen in 2018, his lawyer said.
A pre-nuptial agreement made in 1987 shows that Anne-Elisabeth was entitled to only £15,000 of his £156million fortune along with a plot of land and a Citroen car if the couple divorced.
However, lawyers say the agreement was so lopsided that it might have been ‘ripped apart’ by a court – prompting claims that Hagen might have killed her to avoid a large payout.
Norwegian property tycoon Tom Hagen (pictured left) has denied ‘murder or complicity in the murder’ of his wife Anne-Elisabeth (pictured right), who disappeared in 2018
According to public broadcaster NRK, the marriage agreement stated that Hagen’s fortune remained his separate property and would not be split if they divorced.
All she would receive is a ‘cabin plot’ north of Oslo, 200,000 kroner (£15,000) in cash and a Citroen BX or a car of equivalent quality.
Hagen, the second-oldest in a farming family of 12 children, first struck it rich in the property business in the late 1980s and founded electric company Elkraft in 1992.
He founded electric company Elkraft in 1993 and currently holds a 70 per cent stake in the firm, which operates throughout Scandinavia.
His fortune is estimated at around 1.9billion Norwegian kroner (£156million), making him one of the 200 richest men in Norway.
The agreement says that ‘all that Tom Hagen acquires in the future either by inheritance, gift, salary or return, or otherwise, belongs to his peculiar property’.
In addition, the agreement was amended in 1993 to give Tom Hagen control over a property that Anne-Elisabeth had inherited from, her parents.
A Norwegian police investigator and a police dog at Tom Hagen’s home in Lorenskog yesterday after the property tycoon was arrested
A masked investigator is seen through the window yesterday during a search of Tom Hagen’s home near Oslo
Policemen search Tom Hagen’s workplace in the Futurum building in Lorenskog yesterday
Lawyers told Norwegian media that the agreement was so extraordinary that it may well have been thrown out by a court if they divorced.
‘I have seen many marriages through my practice, but rarely seen a marriage that appears so unbalanced,’ one lawyer said.
‘If she had tried to challenge this marriage agreement as part of a request for divorce, her husband would have been ripped apart by a court,’ said another.
Police have not spoken publicly about a motive, but sources told VG that the marriage agreement was at the centre of the investigation.
The agreement was part of police’s initial conversations with Hagen before he was arrested, the newspaper reported.
Anne-Elisabeth vanished without trace from the couple’s home near Oslo on October 31, 2018 – 49 years after they married.
A poorly-written ransom note containing threats and a demand for €9million in crypto-currency was discovered at the scene.
A police cordon outside Tom Hagen’s home in January 2019, when police first went public with news of Anne-Elisabeth’s disappearance
Police block off the residence of the Hagen couple yesterday after Anne-Elisabeth Hagen’s husband Tom Hagen was arrested in a police action in Lorenskog
Authorities made contact online with people who appeared to be the ‘kidnappers’ – initially supporting the theory that she had been abducted.
However, police now suspect that there was no kidnapping and that Hagen staged the abduction to cover up murder.
‘The case is characterized by a clearly planned deception,’ chief investigator Tommy Broeske told a news conference Tuesday in Oslo.
‘As other hypotheses have been weakened, suspicions against Tom Hagen have gradually been strengthened.
Broeske told reporters: ‘There was no kidnapping, no real negotiating counterpart or real negotiations.’
Hagen was arrested yesterday on suspicion of ‘murder or accessory to murder’, commissioner Ida Melbo Oystese said on Tuesday.
Tom Hagen’s lawyer Svein Holden arrives at a police station near Oslo yesterday. He says his client ‘forcefully denies’ involvement in his wife’s disappearance
Police said the case ‘had traces of a clear, premeditated misdirection’ but did not speculate about the motive.
Prosecutor Aase Kjustad Eriksson said authorities would seek to have Hagen held for four weeks in pre-trial custody and that more arrests were possible.
Authorities had initially kept the disappearance quiet in 2018, but hundreds of tips poured in after they finally went public in January 2019.
Murders and kidnappings are rare in Norway, which prides itself on low crime rates, and the case has gripped the public imagination ever since.
Hagen’s lawyer, Svein Holden, later said his client denied the accusations against him.
‘He forcefully maintains that he has nothing to do with this,’ Holden told reporters outside the police station after meeting Hagen.
Hagen has not been formally charged, a step which usually comes much later in the legal process under Norwegian law.