Stephen Roche ordered to repay €750,000 after being found guilty of fraud by Spanish civil court

The Irishman found to have intentionally taken company money to fund his own private lifestyle before it went bankrupt

Stephen Roche
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A Spanish court has ordered the former cyclist Stephen Roche to repay €750,000 after finding him guilty of negligently bankrupting Mallorca-based cycle holiday firm Shamrock Events in 2017 to fund his lifestyle. 

The civil court's ruling on April 13 in Palma, Mallorca, found the Irishman purposely stripped the business' assets rather than paying creditors, before disappearing from the Balearic island shortly after. This decision followed hearings in February, where creditors, former staff and the insolvency practitioner appointed to Roche's firm testified. 

As reported by Extra.ie (opens in new tab), 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.

"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.”

Roche, who won cycling's Triple Crown in 1987 - the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and road world championships - could also face prosecution under criminal law in Spain, with the ruling also banning him from acting as a company director in the country for seven years. 

The cycling tourism company's former bookkeeper also gave evidence in court, discussing the accounting irregularities and money Roche would take from company accounts for personal use. 

He told Extra.ie (opens in new tab) he will appeal the decision.

"I will bounce back, definitely. The big thing is we are appealing. It’s not definitive."

Roche added: “We need to wait until the appeal goes through.

“There’s no proof of a lot of things and there are huge consequences for something that is not totally clear.

“We still believe we have a chance of turning it around.”

The majority of the money Roche has been ordered to repay is based on the amount the court said he fraudulently removed from the company, with €733,866 accounting for this. The remaining €18,051 is based on Roche's company car that is unaccounted for. 

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Staff Writer

Ryan is a staff writer for Cycling Weekly, having joined the team in September 2021. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before making his way to cycling. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer.