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Shareholder Lobby Group Office Raided Second Time as Insider Probe Widens

The Munich offices of investor advocacy group Schutzgemeinschaft der Kapitalanleger e.V. were searched for the second time in a market-manipulation probe that has widened to 31 suspects.

Munich prosecutors raided 48 homes and offices in Germany and Austria on Sept. 21, prosecutor spokeswoman Barbara Stockinger said in an interview today. The probe is focused on whether investors manipulated share prices.

Munich prosecutors have been investigating SdK since 2008, when the offices were initially raided, the group’s spokesman Lars Labryga said in an interview. The probe has now widened to a larger group of suspects, said Labryga.

“The suspects may have tried to push the price of penny stocks by making public announcements,” said Stockinger. “In other cases, they tried to manipulate shares with negative news while not disclosing they held the stock themselves.”

Stockinger declined to identify any suspects or the names of people or organizations searched.

SdK’s former Vice Chairman Markus Straub stepped down in 2008 after investing in short positions in Wirecard AG, a German seller of online-payment software. Short sellers profit by selling borrowed stock from shareholders on the expectation that the price will fall and they can repurchase the securities at a lower price, return them to the owner and pocket the difference.

Straub didn’t answer a call to his mobile phone.

To contact the reporter on this story: Karin Matussek in Berlin at kmatussek@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@Bloomberg.net.

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