YOUR BUSINESS AUTHORITY

Springfield, MO

Log in Subscribe

Michael Willhoit, who is charged with bank fraud, previously owned the residence nicknamed the African Queen. Its owner is now Freedom Bank of Southern Missouri.
SBJ file photo
Michael Willhoit, who is charged with bank fraud, previously owned the residence nicknamed the African Queen. Its owner is now Freedom Bank of Southern Missouri.

Ex-owner of 'African Queen' indicted for bank fraud

Posted online

The former owner of a southeast Springfield residence he nicknamed the “African Queen” has been indicted for bank fraud.

Michael Willhoit, 66, was charged in a 36-count indictment alleging a $1.4 million bank fraud scheme, according to a news release from the office of Tim Garrison, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

As the owner and operator of luxury car seller Willhoit Enterprises LLC, Willhoit took out a dozen loans totaling $1.4 million from Bank of Missouri, OakStar Bank, Old Missouri Bank and Wood & Huston Bank in Springfield, as well as Freedom Bank of Southern Missouri in Cassville.

The loans were meant to allow Willhoit to purchase high-end vehicles, so he could then sell them through his business. He agreed to a loan repayment schedule, with interest, once the vehicles sold, according to Garrison’s office.

However, Willhoit allegedly did not use the loan proceeds to buy the vehicles, instead using the funds for other expenses at least 12 times between Jan. 1, 2014, and Feb. 28, 2018. Willhoit allegedly falsified, faked or forged each of the 12 purchase agreements, as the sellers did not sign documents submitted to each financial institution and did not own the cars Willhoit claimed were part of the purchase agreements.

In the indictment, Willhoit is charged with 12 counts each of bank fraud, making false statements to a bank and aggravated identity theft, according to the release.

The indictment does not mention Willhoit’s safari-themed home at 2829 S. Lone Pine Ave., near Galloway Village. Willhoit in February 2018 told The Wall Street Journal he invested $7 million-$8 million renovating and expanding the home, which as an homage to Africa, features a man-made lake, a waterfall and numerous artifacts.

Springfield Business Journal yesterday reported Freedom Bank of Southern Missouri, which held a note against the “African Queen” and bought it in an April foreclosure sale, is having the home appraised to again be listed on the market for sale. The Wall Street Journal article highlighted Willhoit’s attempts to sell it on eBay for $8.9 million.

Comments

No comments on this story |
Please log in to add your comment
Editors' Pick

Made to Order Chapter Fourteen: Inside Out

Darren Pearce of Pinnacle Sign Group is brought in to discuss exterior signage options at Omer Onder’s diner.

Most Read
SBJ.net Poll
Which bank holds your deposits?

View results