Dortmund Bus Attacker Hoped to Profit From Share Slump

Updated on
  • 28-year-old with dual German-Russian citizenship arrested
  • Prosecutors say man bought put options on Dortmund shares

The Borussia Dortmund club bus on April 12.

Photographer: by Maja Hitij/Getty Images

In what seems like a plot from a James Bond movie, police arrested a man on suspicion he attacked the bus of German soccer team Borussia Dortmund GmbH last week as part of a scheme to profit from a slump in the club’s share price.

The 28-year-old, who has both German and Russian citizenship, was apprehended in the southern city of Tuebingen on Friday, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office said. On the day of the April 11 attack in the team’s home city, he bought 15,000 options on Borussia Dortmund shares, betting they would drop sharply after the attack.

Borussia Dortmund’s damaged bus, April 11.

Photographer: Patrik Stollarz/AFP via Getty Images

A Borussia Dortmund defender, Spaniard Marc Bartra, was hospitalized following three bomb explosions near the team’s bus as it headed to a Champions League match against AS Monaco. The suspect, identified only as Sergej W., is being investigated for attempted murder, causing an explosion and dangerous assault.

The man stayed in the same hotel as the soccer team, with a room overlooking the site of the attack. He bought put options online via the IP address of the hotel, the prosecutor’s office said. The options grant their owner the right to sell shares at a fixed price in the future. The man had taken out a loan to finance the transaction, according to the statement.

The man later placed three bombs in a hedge on the road that the team bus was due to take to the stadium, prosecutors said. The explosives contained metal pins, which after the explosion were found as far as 250 meters (275 yards) away. One pin was found in a head-rest of one the bus seats, the authorities said.

"A massive share drop would have had to be expected, had a player been gravely injured or even killed as the result of the attack," the prosecutor’s office said.

On the day of the attack, 15,000 equity-covered put options were traded at 18 cents a piece at 11:16 a.m. in Frankfurt, about 8 hours before the bombs went off. The options, issued by DZ Bank AG and due to expire on June 16, give the right to sell Borussia Dortmund shares at 5.20 euros. The shares closed at 5.61 euros that afternoon, shortly before the attack took place, and fell as low as 5.50 euros the next day. The stock hasn’t traded below 5.20 euros since February. DZ Bank declined to comment.

The suspect bought three types of derivatives, with the suspicious trades leading authorities to the man, Frauke Koehler, the Federal Prosecutor’s spokeswoman, said during a televised press conference Friday. Police are still calculating what the maximum profit could have been had the plot gone as planned, she said. A judge ruled on Friday evening that there is enough evidence to keep the man in custody.

Borussia Dortmund said in a statement that it hopes all details of the plot will be cleared up in order to help the team, one of the few to be publicly traded, cope with the trauma caused by the incident.

"We thank the authorities that the responsible person for this wicked assault could be caught," the team said. "That there were no additional injuries or even deaths was, as we now know, only because of the immense luck we had."

— With assistance by Stefan Nicola, Jurjen Van De Pol, Cecile Vannucci, Alexander Kell, and Nicholas Comfort

(Updates with custody ruling in eighth paragraph.)
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