A disgraced pastor for the Methodist foundation Betanien in Bergen has admitted that he used funds he embezzled from the foundation to pay for parties and sex with prostitutes in Spain.
Former colleagues of Are Blomhoff, the once-trusted chief executive of Betanien who was decorated by King Harald just three years ago, were already shocked by the embezzlement he admitted to last year. “That was completely unacceptable on its own,” Christian Hysing-Dahl, chairman of Stiftelsen Betanien, told state broadcaster NRK. “When we see what the money was used for, it just gets even worse.”
Betanien Bergen operates a hospital, day care center and high school at its base in Fyllingsdalen plus a nursing home and rehabilitation center in Alfaz del Pi on Spain’s east coast. Blomhoff, who testified in his embezzlement trial on Tuesday, had access to the Spanish operation’s bank account and admitted to regularly siphoning off funds to the tune of NOK 15.8 million from his employer.
Blomhoff also testified to spending most of the money on parties, drinks and sex with prostitutes. He said they were paid between EUR 1,000-EUR 1,500 every time they took part in a party in Alfaz del Pi, reported newspaper Bergens Tidende. “It was almost like an illness, an addiction,” Blomhoff said in court, where he also reportedly testified to having problems with alcohol.
“This is just so terribly unfortunate,” Hysing-Dahl told NRK. Betanien, which has more than 500 people on its payroll, fears that Blomhoff’s actual embezzlement amounts to more than NOK 20 million and that the money can’t be recovered.
“I think it’s good, though, that the case will come to a close, both for him and us,” Hysing-Dahl said. “Now he’ll get his sentence and can start serving it.”