The Hagen kidnapping case

Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen Kidnapping homeAnne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen (68), the wife of one of Norway's richest men (172th), Tom Hagen (68), has been missing for ten weeks. On Wednesday the police were present in her residence, where she was last observed. Photo: Ole Berg-Rusten / NTB Scanpix

The Hagen kidnapping case as it stands now

Anne-Elisabeth Hagen (68) has been missing from her home since October 31st (Halloween), assumed to be held for ransom. No signs of life have been forthcoming since then. She is the wife of the Norwegian billionaire Tom Hagen (68).

 

The police are looking for two men who walked outside Tom Hagen’s workplace the morning after his wife disappeared. They believe that Hagen’s movements may have been monitored and mapped.

The investigators at East Police District are now launching two short recordings, caught by a surveillance camera outside the workplace of  Tom Hagen the very morning that his wife probably was abducted from the couple’s home. On Thursday, the police for two pedestrians and a bicyclist to report themselves ASAP.

“At 7.36 am, a person comes, turns around and goes back the way he came. 24 minutes after this, at 8 am, a person walks by and is overtaken by a bicyclist,” says Investigation Leader at East Police District, Tommy Brøske.

The grainy and rather indistinct video recordings shown by the police during Thursday’s press conference on the kidnapping of Hagen’s wife, Anne-Elisabeth, were made outside the man’s workplace in the Futurum building at Rasta in Lørenskog, North of Oslo.

During the same period, the police believe that one or more unknown perpetrators entered the couple’s detached house at the end of Sloraveien on Fjellhamar, grabbing Tom Hagen’s wife leaving both a ransom note and threatening letter behind.

Tom Hagen notified the police on the same day. There has been no sign of life from her since then.

Fears Mapping

Brøske emphasises that the three persons who are wanted have status as witnesses at this stage in the investigation, but says the search is related to the main theory that Anne-Elisabeth Hagen has been kidnapped. The movements and daily routines of the couple and others in their vicinity may have been monitored and mapped for a time before the abduction, they fear.

“This is a case that we believe has its background in business operations and wealthy persons. We cannot rule out that these have been under surveillance, be it on the property or at the workplace,” Brøske tells NTB.

The police also call for witnesses who may have observed something at the husband’s workplace at the time when Hagen disappeared and in the days before the supposed abduction. The East Police District is in a phase of massive information gathering. Investigative steps they were largely prevented from carrying out when the handling of the case was kept under wraps.

Demands Crypto Currency

Police crime technicians have, during their meticulous search of the home, discovered a ransom note and a letter containing serious threats of what will happen if the police are notified, hence the secrecy surrounding the case up till now.

The perpetrators require the ransom paid out in cryptocurrency. According to VG, the claim is for €9 million, just shy of NOK 90 million. Several media writes that the kidnappers demand the ransom paid in Monero, a virtually untraceable currency. The police refuse to verify the currency involved

It has been a major topic among investigators why the perpetrators have made it so complicated to communicate with them – by choosing a hard-to-get (small) currency and using a communication channel where the recipient has to pay.

“I cannot go into what we think and believe regarding that at present,” Brøske answers.

More Than 100 Tip-offs

After the police chose to go public with the case, they have received more than 100 tip-offs. As the investigation since October 31st has been conducted top secret, the police have so far only had limited contact with persons who have status as witnesses in the case.

In addition to approaching the public broadly, asking for observations, information and the like, it is appropriate to question individual witnesses more thoroughly now that the cat is out of the bag.

“We have also been to places in the local community to talk to people. We will now process the tip-offs, which of course will take time. We cannot comment on the information, but can say that several individuals are of interest and will be followed up,“ Brøske elaborates, adding:

“We also encourage drivers who have been in Sloraveien in the morning hours of October 31st [Halloween], to make contact.”

«On Thursday morning, dog searches are conducted in the vicinity of the home. Dog patrols make searches round the house and in the hiking area behind it,» reports Norwegian TV 2.

The latest information is that another 150 tips have been given to the police in the last 24 hours, including the two persons in the video.

Important with Signs of Life

“The fact that the police go out publicly with the supposed kidnapping case can be an attempt to get the perpetrators to provide a sign of life from Anne-Elisabeth Hagen,” Leader of the Human Advisor Group, Michael Sjøberg. Sjøberg is an expert in handling hostage situations.

“An important factor in achieving a solution to the case is that you get a sign of life,” the Danish expert explains.

The police say they have only had a limited dialogue with the supposed perpetrator(s), and have no idea who that is.

“The perpetrator(s) has chosen a digital communication platform that facilitates communication in a very small degree. There has been no oral contact, the police have previously stated. It is ever more common for encrypted messaging services to be used,” Sjøberg continues.

«Tiger-kidnapping»

The Norwegian Business and Industry Security Council (NSR) has seen signs that abductions with a requirement for ransom can affect Norwegian business leaders. The police confirm that the case is unique in the Norwegian context, but internationally there have been several similar cases.

The phenomenon has been nicknamed «Tiger-kidnapping» as the modus operandi is comparable to the way the predator is hunting among other things.

Head of the NSR, Jack Fischer Eriksen, who himself has a background from the Special Branch (PST) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, says that there have been developments in society that have made it easier to implement such abductions.

“It is easier to map others through social media today. In addition, it is easier to hide transactions via the internet,” he tells NTB.

Don’t Pay

The police have recommended Anne-Elisabeth Hagen’s family not to comply with the ransom demand, which they have adhered to. Sjøberg believes that they have made the correct decision.

It is difficult to find somebody who recommends that you be pressured in such a way. There are many considerations that should be taken into account in hostage situations, he says.

“In my view, you should do what is necessary for persons to survive such a situation and limit mental and physical damage,” Sjøberg concludes.

The police state that they have not received any sign of life from the missing woman, but emphasise that they have not received any evidence to the contrary, either.

Notes

Two or more notes linked to the case, have been located, according to NRK.

“External Language Experts have been brought in to investigate the message on the notes,” a person connected to the investigation tells NRK.

The villa was ransacked over a period of 14 days.

The police do not know whether Anne-Elisabeth Hagen is still in Norway or someplace else. They believe that there are signs indicating that professionals are responsible for the kidnapping.

Google Maps

When the police ask people to remember observations made ten weeks ago, that may be of importance to the case, they recommend using Google technology.

«It is more than ten weeks since Anne-Elisabeth Hagen went missing from her home. While police have kept the case under wraps, potential witnesses may have forgotten important observations, but a Google tool can assist the recollection,» writes VG.

Anyone who has Google Maps on a device and has enabled the location services, can review a log and see where they have been at any given time. Thus you can get help to remember where you were on October 31st.

“To the extent that people have this service available, it is an aid to go back in time to see where they were. We are positive to that you utilise and use the technology that exists,” the Investigation Leader tells VG.

Phone Call

A phone call is supposedly the last verified sign of life from Anne-Elisabeth Hagen. That conversation is central to the investigation.

«The police hope that the phone call can help narrow the time frame for when the 68-years-old went missing,» writes VG.

The conversation took place early in the morning of October 31st, shortly before the police believe Hagen was abducted from her home in Sloraveien.

According to the newspaper, she has talked to one or more family members on the phone that morning. It is not informed if any of them were the last to have contact with her.

“I cannot either confirm or deny that information. This is going straight into the investigation,” Tommy Brøske says.

Connection to Fraud

The police asked the Economic Crimes Unit (Økokrim) to check whether there were links between the kidnapping and a stock fraud case involving her husband, reports TV 2, referring to police sources.

The fraud case was dealt with by the Oslo District Court this autumn. It concerns stock litigation where twelve companies have lost approximately NOK hundred million. Tom Hagen has ownership interests in one of the affected companies.

The Economic Crimes Unit does not believe that the two cases are linked.

The police confirm that Hagen’s business relationships are a key element in the investigation.

“We cannot rule out that this is the motive behind the crime. This is not an unknown phenomenon abroad,” Brøske opinionates.

The verdict in the fraud case is expected to be announced later this month.

Facts

  • Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen (68) was likely abducted from her home in Sloraveien on Lørenskog before noon on October 31st, 2018.
  • Her husband, businessman and billionaire, Tom Hagen (68), notified the police the same day.
  • More than ten weeks after the kidnapping, on Wednesday, January 9, the police went public with the case. The investigation was kept under wraps – based on serious threats to the woman’s life and health.
  • So far, there is no indication that she is still alive or not. The police also don’t know if she is kept hidden in Norway or abroad.
  • A ransom claim is made, to be paid in cryptocurrency. Serious threats were left at the scene by the perpetrators. They demand €9 million in Monero, a currency that is virtually untraceable.
  • The police believe that they are dealing with professional actors.
  • The investigation is led by the East Police District, with assistance from Kripos, the Oslo Police District, Økokrim and Europol/Interpol.

(Sources: the Norwegian Police, lawyer Svein Holden, Aftenposten, VG, NRK, E24 and NTB).



© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today



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