Failed Coup: The Borussia Dortmund Bomb attack

The story surrounding the recent bomb attack on the bus of German football team Borussia Dortmund could have been taken straight out of a film script – in fact, the resemblance to the plot of ‘Casino Royale’ is astonishing

When a roadside bomb exploded at the exact moment the Borussia Dortmund bus passed on the evening of 11 April, everything initially pointed towards an attack by radical islamists. With the windows of the bus shattered and football player Marc Batra injured, fans and the media were shocked. The scheduled Champions League match against AS Monaco set for 8.30 pm was cancelled.

According to the prosecutor’s office, the bombs were fixed over a length of twelve meters in a hedge along the route of the team bus. The explosive effect of the devices fitted with metal pins had been aligned towards the bus. One metal pin was found at a distance of 250 meters. According to the current state of the investigation, the ignitions were carried out separately for each explosive via a remote-controlled electrical circuit. No reliable knowledge is available as to the nature of the explosive used.

Investigators extensively searched the crime scene for evidence

It was just one day after the attack, that a private individual contacted the renowned football club directly, claiming to have informations about an option business with the Borussia Dortmund share. The police began to investigate and it was quickly established, that someone had indeed speculated on a falling stock market price for the share. On 13 April, the online bank Comdirect filed a report of suspicion. The alleged culprit: 28 year old Sergej W., a German-Russian national from the Russian city of Tscheljabinsk with dual citizenship. He had worked as a technician at the university clinic in Tübingen.

On the day of the attack, Sergej W. had bought 15.000 so-called put options for the Borussia share worth 78,000 euros with a validity until 17 June. For this undertaking, he had gotten himself a consumer loan. The bulk of the put options were actually bought by him on the very day of the attack from within the hotel used by the footbal team. An elaborate and cunning plan just like in the James Bond film ‘Casino Royale’ where villain Le Chiffre tried to manipulate the stock market by blowing up a new airliner. The film coup failed and so did the one in Dortmund. But how was it supposed to work and where did it all go wrong?

In ‘Casino Royale’, villain Le Chiffre tries to short-sell stock in Skyfleet, thus betting the money on the company’s failure. He plans to bring about said failure by destroying the company’s prototype airliner.

Put options win in the case the market price drops. The owner acquires the right to sell shares for a certain price at a certain time. Should the share price be below the strike price on the day of the sale, the owner of the option receives the difference. Should the price remain above it, the options become worthless. In case of the Dortmund attack, the Borussia share had a strike price of 5,20 euros. Before the attack, the share was worth 5,61 euros. Sergej W. had hoped, the share would be dropping below 5,20 euros earning him a nice sum. Instead, the share only dropped to 5,50 euros and the coup failed.

In any case, the market manipulation would have probably not gone unnoticed as the Borussia share is a side share with a low trading volume and any exceptional price action would have appeared on the radar of the German Exchange Supervisory Authority which routinely checks the market for suspicious trades.

Sergej W. on the day of his arrest by German GSG9

Sergej W. covered his tracks, but not well enough. Although he used a hotel computer to finalize his deal, the account with which he bought the put options was in his name. After the bomb attack, he enjoyed a steak followed by a massage in the hotel spa. Just like the other hotel guests, he was even questioned by the police. After several days of observation, Sergej W. was arrested in Tübingen by German Federal Police Unit GSG9 on 21 April. The federal prosecutor’s office charged him with attempted murder, bodily injury as well as causing a bomb explosion. He is furthermore accused of having betted on a decline in share price to rake in millions in profit.