Are Blomhoff was a respected Methodist pastor recently decorated by King Harald who headed the church-founded Betanien foundation in Bergen that ran a local hospital, a college, a day care center and a nursing home in Spain. Now he’s been defrocked and charged with one of the largest cases of serious fraud in the Hordaland Police District’s history.
Newspaper Bergens Tidende reported Thursday that Blomhoff’s massive fall from grace started emerging earlier this year, after a whistle-blower informed the board of Stiftelsen Betanien Bergen of financial irregularities concerning its nursing home operation in Spain. Blomhoff has now been charged with siphoning off NOK 14.6 million (USD 2.4 million) from the nursing home’s bank account.
Blomhoff had authority over the Spanish bank account that regularly received funding from the foundation in Norway. Bergens Tidende reported that Blomhoff allegedly used the account “as his own personal wallet,” and used the bank card tied to the account for personal use over a period of at least seven years.
When first confronted with the suspected swindle in January, he admitted to siphoning off funds. Betanien’s board reported him to the police when the extent of the fraud became known and he was arrested on Wednesday.
Betanien’s chairman, Christian Hysing-Dahl, called the case “a personal tragedy.” Hysing-Dahl told Bergens Tidende that he’d considered Blomhoff a friend and trusted colleague “who has betrayed the great confidence he enjoyed in the organization for many years.” Betanien is now cooperating fully with the police investigation, Hysing-Dahl said.