The Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands condemns the claims and activities asserted by representatives of the "Kingdom of EnenKio" and the "Dominion of Melchizedek". The representatives making claims of separate sovereignty are not citizens of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and have no right to make claims on behalf of Marshallese landowners. Furthermore, these representatives are making fraudulent assertions that violate the Republic of the Marshall Islands's constitution. The area of land and ocean which the "Kingdom of EnenKio" asserts as a sovereign nation separate from the Marshall Islands and the area of land and ocean which the "Dominion of Melchizedek" is asserting control over are areas within the geographical and political boundaries of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.— Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Circular Note 01-98
Mark Logan Pedley (born 19 July 1953), later changed to Mark Wellington, (also known as "Tzemach Ben David Netzer Korem" and "Branch Vinedresser"; Branch Vinedresser being a translation of his Hebrew name Tzemach Korem). He is the son of David Pedley and was the Head of the House of Elders, Vice President, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the DoM. Pedley is the co-author, with his father, of the Melchizedek Bible.
After being convicted of several financial crimes in the 1970s, including stock fraud, David Pedley was incarcerated. He claims the charges were false and the result of a "witch-hunt" against him. While incarcerated, he started a cattle Business, which his son Mark operated for him in Los Angeles, California.
In 1983, Pedley was convicted of mail and interstate fraud relating to a land fraud in California and jailed for three years. Shortly after his release, he was again successfully prosecuted in 1986 for a $6 million currency fraud scheme that was operated in 1982-3; he was jailed for eight years and fined $25,000. Having been paroled in 1990, he set up the Dominion of Melchizedek. His parole was revoked in late 1991 due to a violation of his conditions, arising from his promotion of a fictitious country, and was returned to prison to serve the remainder of his sentence. In 1994, following his release, Pedley married Pearlasia Gamboa, who was made President of Melchizedek.
While in Mexican custody Pedley apparently died, though the circumstances are not clear. A closed casket funeral was held in Altadena, California in 1987. At the funeral, FBI agents approached the Pedley family and requested to fingerprint David Pedley's body. This request was denied by the family and allegedly some government regulators believe that Pedley is still alive. Pedley is the co-author, with his son, of the Melchizedek Bible.
Soon after its inception, the DoM started selling documents purporting to charter or licence companies. By the end of the 1990s, the DoM claimed that some 300 banking licenses had been sold. DoM apologists have suggested that there is no link between Melchizedek and the illegal activities conducted by "banks" it has "licensed"; however, John Shockey, a former special assistant in the office of the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency, has stated:
In 1991, in Washington, D.C, shell banks that were subsidiaries of a Melchizedekian company tried to secure loans from real banks based on fake DoM securities, but were closed down before they succeeded. One of the men involved, Steve Peterson, later pleaded guilty to fraud and theft charges in another case in Arizona after using a company chartered in DoM.
According to the Washington Post, the Central African Republic extended diplomatic recognition to the DoM in 1993, but the Post article went on to remark, "...you get the feeling that the Central African Republic would recognize the State of Denial if it had a letterhead." An article in the Quatloos! online anti-fraud site noted that: "Melchizedek has apparently obtained some sort of recognition from some smaller states ... all of which are notable for their corruption. Claims that the DoM has received recognition from any major government are purely lies."
In Hong Kong, Gerhard Bacher used cheques issued by phoney Melchizedek banks to open accounts in legitimate Hong Kong banks; he was sentenced to 6 months in prison. In 1995, in the UK, an organisation that was making use of a DoM licensed bank was barred from doing Business.
One of the most notorious victims of the scam was businessman Rogério Cavaco Silva, brother of former President of Portugal Aníbal Cavaco Silva, who in 1996 was conned out of US$ 35,000 which were supposed to guarantee a loan to complete a hotel in the Algarve. Six Portuguese perpetrators, who conned a total of 39 Business People (including Cavaco Silva) between 1996 and 1999, were sentenced in 2007 to several periods in prison, the highest of which was six years.
She is a Filipina-American Business woman who has been involved in controversial banking and Investments. She was prevented from operating companies that were purporting to be banks in Indiana and California. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued Gamboa in 2009, alleging that she had used fictitious reports of gold mining operations to profit by fraudulently selling shares, siphoning off more than $1 million. A judgment was ordered against her in August 2010 totaling $1.8 million; a $650,000 fine for the ZNext corporation, and $1.18 million for Gamboa personally. Gamboa was also permanently barred from selling penny stocks. She has not paid the fine and is attempting to have the decision overturned.
In 2010, under the name Tzemach David Netzer Korem, he was charged with, and later pleaded guilty to, share manipulation regarding ZNext Mining. ZNext Mining was investigated by a multi-agency taskforce as part of Operation Broken Trust, a US-wide operation in 2010 that targeted investment fraud. In 2011 he was sentenced to two years in prison; he was released in 2012.