Irish cycling great Stephen Roche has been ordered by a court to repay €750,000 he took from his Mallorca-based cycle tourism business Shamrock Events, which went bankrupt in 2019.
The judgment, handed down by a civil court in the island’s capital Palma, ruled that the winner of the Triple Crown in 1987 of the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and road world championship had used the business’s assets to fund his own lifestyle instead of paying its creditors, reports Extra.ie.
The 62 year old, who according to the judgment fled Mallorca in 2017, has also been banned from acting as a company director in Spain for seven years and could also face prosecution under criminal law.
Judge Margarita Isabel Poveda Bernal said: “Mr Roche was perfectly conscious of its debt situation and instead of adopting measures to avoid financing the company, or entering into voluntary insolvency, he continued to loot the company accounts for his own private use when there was a minimum amount of income in them.
“Mr Roche’s sumptuous expenditure on things like golf, apartment rentals, hotels in Switzerland and Hungary, restaurants, clothes stores and fashion houses like Loewe, evidence a life of luxury and spending while his creditors weren’t paid.”
The judge continued: “It has been proven Mr Roche disappeared from Majorca in 2017 after some 25 years of business activity and that his disappearance coincided in time with the appropriation of his company’s income and the simultaneous failure to pay the Spanish taxman as well as creditors who had already provided accommodation and meals.”
She added that the company’s bankruptcy was “culpable rather than fortuitous.”
The company’s former bookkeeper, giving evidence in court, said that “in 2016 things began to go wrong, that money was missing, that Mr Roche would take money from the company accounts and then return it,” and that “the company’s financial adviser had warned Mr Roche about the accounting irregularities and told him he had to sort things out and put the money back or the company would go bust.”
Roche, who plans to appeal the decision, was also ordered to pay costs in the case.
He told Extra.ie: “I will bounce back, definitely.” Referring to his father Larry, who died this week, he added: “I promised my dad I would.”
When news of the company’s financial problems emerged in 2019, Roche promised to repay its creditors.
He said at the time: “I have been very upfront with the people I owe money to. When I hear I’ve run away or I’m trying to get away without paying, that’s not me. That’s not me. Never.”
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.