Borussia Dortmund bus was bombed 'to cash in on shares'

The 28-year-old suspect had bought shares in the club and hoped to cash in for €4million

German prosecutors are demanding life imprisonment for the man they believe bombed the Borussia Dortmund team bus last April, hoping for a multi-million windfall from stock options on a falling share-price.

The 28 year-old Russian-German accused, an electrical engineer identified only as Sergej W., was arrested 10 days after the attack that injured player Marc Bartra and a police officer.

Two nail bombs concealed in a hedge outside the team hotel exploded as the bus carrying the players left the car park, on its way to their Champions League match against AS Monaco.

Police briefly suspected an Islamist motive after finding “Allah the merciful” letters at the scene – until the accused’s bank got in touch.


Hours before the attack, someone using an internet connection in the team hotel had bought 15,000 stock options in Dortmund, effectively betting on a drastic fall in price.

Further investigation revealed Sergei W. had called in sick to work and checked into the L’Arrivée hotel a day before the attack, demanding a room with a view of the road.

Investigators believe the man watched the bus pull out of the hotel car park on April 11th and, one minute later, at 7.16pm, detonated the explosive charges by remote control.

While other hotel guests ran out onto the road after the blast, the accused reportedly went for a steak dinner in the hotel restaurant, and later a massage.

Examination of his bank account revealed he had taken out a €78,000 consumer loan six days before the attacks which prosecutors say – thanks to his stock options – he hoped would earn him up to €4 million.

“A massive fall in the share price of Borussia Dortmund would have brought a return many times the financial commitment,” said Germany’s federal prosecutor in a statement. “A considerable fall in stock price would have been likely if, as a result of the attack, players were seriously injured or even killed.”

Investigators say that the nail bombs, had they been concealed higher in the hotel hedge, could have ripped through the bus and caused serious injury.

The German prosecutor’s case – detailed in 67 folders lodged with Dortmund district court – is that the attack motive was not God, but mammon.

Just before 6am on April 21st, special branch police in southern Germany apprehended a suspect on his way to work in the southwestern town of Tübingen.

After a week of close observation, the 28 year-old man with dual German and Russian citizenship was pulled off the road and now faces 28 cases of attempted murder and two cases of aggravated criminal assault.

Dortmund lost to Monaco in the rescheduled match 24 hours after the blast.

The accused, in custody since last April, moved to Germany with his family from Russia in 2003. Friends describe him as a quiet man who liked the gym, drank little, bet occasionally and drove a VW Lupo. He has declined to comment on the charges. He is unlikely to go before Dortmund regional court until early next year.

Derek Scally

Derek Scally

Derek Scally is an Irish Times journalist based in Berlin