We will sue Stephen Roche for his Hungarian assets, Spanish officials say

The personal assets of cycling hero Stephen Roche are wanted by Spanish bankruptcy officials after he was found guilty of acting fraudulently by a commercial court in Mallorca.

The decision, which was revealed exclusively by Extra.ie last week ordered Mr Roche to repay €750,000 and found he had deliberately stripped the assets of his Spanish cycling holiday business before disappearing from Mallorca in 2017.

The court’s findings concluded that Mr Roche spent much of the money maintaining a luxury lifestyle – instead of paying creditors owed by his business, Shamrock Events SL.

We have learned that the Spanish administrator appointed to oversee Roche’s company bankruptcy intends to sue its assets overseas to recover money for creditors. Manuela Serrano Sanchez, who works for PWC in Madrid, said Mr Roche’s conviction meant his assets could be sued under EU agreements ensuring civil and commercial judgments can be enforced across the country. Europe. “We must now try to pursue Mr. Roche’s assets in Spain and outside Spain if possible,” she said. “It will be difficult, but we will do our best to get money for creditors.”

Stephen Roche, photographed in Budapest, Hungary, on the banks of the Danube. Photo by Sean Dwyer

The full extent of Mr Roche’s assets is not known, but we have learned that after leaving Mallorca he set up a new Hungarian company called Shamrock 1987 Kft. The company is named after the year he won the cycling triple crown with epic victories in the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and World Road Race Championship. According to official accounts filed in Hungary, Shamrock 1987 was founded in May 2018 after Mr Roche’s business debts on the other side of Europe soared 250% to €519,571 the previous year . Spanish courts have found that instead of paying those to whom his company owed money, Mr Roche transferred hundreds of thousands of euros from his company in 2017 and 2018. These funds were paid into various accounts in his own name.

However, we have learned that some of these funds were later transferred by Roche to a UK account controlled by his Hungary-based wife, Csilla Adrienne Henschl Matthieu.

Mr Roche’s wife, a former lecturer and choreographer who ran a London business, is referred to only as ‘CAH Matthieu’ in the damning bankruptcy ruling against her husband.

According to the judge handling the case, most illegitimate transfers made by Roche in 2017 and 2018 went to a specific personal account in his name.

However, the court stressed the fact that these payments to Mr Roche’s personal account from his failing business in Mallorca “correspond to unjustified and large transfers made to third parties”.

Irish cyclist Stephen Roche.
Tour de France, France in 1987

The decision specifically states that these corresponding transfers to third parties went “essentially” to the UK account of “CAH Matthieu”.

According to the Spanish ruling, Mr Roche “repeatedly and deliberately” transferred company funds in this way “to meet his high and ostentatious personal expenses”.

In 2017, the sum of these “undue provisions” amounted to €519,571.43 – a figure that rose to €715,814.97 in July 2018.

Meanwhile, the two employees of the Spanish firm stopped receiving their salaries in June 2018 without any notice from Mr Roche who had set up his Hungarian firm – Shamrock 1987 Ktf – the previous month with his wife Csilla.

Now known as Csilla Roche-Henschl, the full name of Mr Roche’s wife – and the July 2020 change in the use of her surname – is officially listed in documents the couple filed for their Hungarian business.

The company’s registered address is that of a small luxury hotel called ‘Wellness Villa’ on the shores of Lake Balaton in the tourist resort of Siofok. But a related “branch” address listed in company files is that of a health food store and pharmacy apparently run by Mr. Roche’s wife.

The couple have also listed a London address together, although the land register does not show them as owners of this property. The couple’s Hungarian Wellness Villa currently charges over €200 a night for a double room and has received rave reviews.

“The owners (she’s an all-around Hungarian, he’s a former Irish cycling champion) are super friendly. Stephen even took us to the restaurant in Siofok and picked us up,” a guest from Belgium wrote in 2019.

According to its documents filed in Hungary, Mr. Roche’s hotel company operated a number of accounts in Budapest, including facilities at branches of Raiffeisen Bank, MKB Bank and Takarék Bank.

Mr Roche has always denied running away from his responsibilities in Mallorca and has pledged to repay whatever he can. But according to the Spanish decision, Mr Roche was aware of the precarious state of his Mallorca business, but “continued to plunder the company accounts for private purposes as soon as there was a minimum cash income. “.

The court found that he then used the money to finance an extravagant lifestyle involving “the purchase of goods for personal use such as watches or spending on gifts in certain luxury stores”.

Last week, following the death of his father, Mr Roche told the MoS he would bounce back and clear his name. He is currently working on an appeal of the Spanish verdict against him.

“We are appealing,” he said last night. “It’s not going away, I know and okay, I accept some things, but they can’t throw all that bullshit at me.”

Mr Roche said he had email trails showing he was offering ‘to settle any money I may owe or offer other means of reimbursement’.

“None of them were considered at all…it’s not going to clear me but at least it shows I’m not being reckless, you know,” he said.

Mr Roche also said there had been “a complete lack of good will to try to understand” his position. He also dismissed accusations that he spent too much on designer goods.

‘The fact that I’m wearing a Boss costume, what difference does it make?’ He asked. ‘There are guys on the street wearing Boss suits. These are no longer designer clothes. You can get T-shirts for €50 now at Boss, you know. And costumes are around $300 top and bottom.

Laura T. Thrasher