Dortmund Bombing

Suspect in Soccer Bus Attack Wanted to Short Team’s Stock

Police officers stand in front of Dortmund’s damaged team coach last week. Source: AP Photo / Martin Meissner

A German-Russian national was arrested Friday morning in the city of Tübingen on suspicion of bombing the bus carrying the Borussia Dortmund soccer team in an attack last week.

Police believe he hoped to profit from a consequent fall in the club’s stock. In a statement, the federal chief prosecutor said the 28-year-old, identified as Sergej W., had bought options on Borussia Dortmund’s stock before the attack. Had the attack led to a drop in the club’s share price, the value of his so-called put options for the team’s shares would have increased significantly.

Borussia Dortmund is Germany’s only soccer club that is publicly listed on the stock market, but a handful of other European clubs do so as well, including England’s Manchester United.

“A significant share price drop could have been expected if a player had been seriously injured or even killed as a result of the attack,” prosecutors said.

Ralf Jäger, interior minister for North Rhine-Westphalia, the German state in which Dortmund is located, said the suspect appeared to have wanted to commit murder out of greed.

On April 11, three explosive devices detonated next to the bus en route to a Champions League match against AS Monaco. Glass shards injured defender Marc Bartra, who also suffered a fractured wrist. The game was postponed until the next day.

Police in Dortmund called the event a “targeted attack.” The nature of the attack and three letters found near the site of the bombing initially suggested Islamist terrorists could be involved. Investigators believe the suspect deliberately attempted to imitate an IS-related attack, but soon began doubting the authenticity of the so-called Islamist motives behind the bombing.

According to prosecutors, Sergej W. bought 15,000 put options in BVB on April 11. Some media reports found he invested €78,000 ($83,722) and could have gained as much as €4 million, though the amount hasn’t been confirmed. Handelsblatt’s own research of public exchange records found at least seven suspicious trades involving put options in the run-up to the attack on the evening of April 11. Calculations by the Technical University of Kaiserslautern for Handelsblatt, based on the trades discovered, found he couldn’t have earned more than €320,000, and only then if BVB’s stock fell to zero.

In the end, the effect on the club’s stock wasn’t nearly what might have been expected. Shares fell only about 2 percent on the morning of April 12, but was back in positive territory by the end of the day.

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