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German soccer bomb suspect wanted to drive down share price: prosecutor

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German police arrested a man on Friday suspected of detonating three bombs that targeted the Borussia Dortmund soccer team bus in the hope of forcing down the club’s share price and making a profit on an investment, prosecutors said.

The team was heading to the club’s stadium for a Champions League match against AS Monaco on April 11 when the explosions went off, wounding Spanish defender Marc Bartra and delaying the match by a day.

In a statement, the federal chief prosecutor said the 28-year old suspect, a dual German and Russian national identified as Sergei V., had bought options on the day of the attack entitling him to sell shares in Borussia Dortmund at a pre-determined price.

“If the shares of Borussia Dortmund had fallen massively, the profit would have been several times the initial investment,” the prosecutor’s office said, adding that such a slump could have resulted if any players had been killed or seriously injured.

Holger Muench, head of Germany’s Federal Crime Office (BKA), told broadcaster ZDF: “We’ve never seen a crime that we’re investigating turn out to be such an insidious form of manipulation of share prices.”

In fact, the shares rose 1.8 percent on April 12, the day after the attack, and are up about 2 percent so far this year.

Three letters had been left at the site of the attack to steer investigators toward inferring an Islamist motive, but prosecutors last week expressed doubts about their authenticity.

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Police detained the suspect in the southwestern city of Tuebingen. He faces charges of attempted murder, inflicting serious bodily harm and causing an explosion, the prosecutor’s office said.

It said the man had booked into the same hotel where the Dortmund team was staying, and the hotel’s Internet IP address was used in the transaction to buy the 15,000 ‘put’ options, funded with a consumer loan he had signed a week earlier.

Der Spiegel magazine reported that the suspect received weapons training while completing then-mandatory service in the German military from April to December 2008.

It said he was identified following a tip from an informant in the financial sector, and a notice of possible money laundering by comdirect bank AG, a unit of Commerzbank AG.

Muench said the man had “significant electronic skills that would have been useful in detonating such explosives”, but said police were continuing to investigate how the bombs were built.

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Security is a hot issue in campaigning for Germany’s federal election on Sept. 24, in which Chancellor Angela Merkel is seeking a fourth term.

Borussia Dortmund’s Chief Executive Hans-Joachim Watzke told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper he was talking to security experts including former staff of Germany’s GSG9 special operations police unit with a view to creating a security unit.

“We will spend a lot of money to improve the security situation of our team,” said .

He added that BVB was also considering whether it needed to introduce measures to restrict trading in its shares.

Additional reporting by Victoria Bryan, Georgina Prodhan, Joseph Nasr and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Mark Trevelyan